WITH England set for another lockdown, we explain the rules shoppers must follow when heading to supermarkets.
Supermarkets remain open because they are classed as an essential shop under the lockdown rules, so you can continue to buy food and other household items.
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Shoppers can still buy items in supermarkets during lockdown if they follow safety rulesCredit: Alamy
However, customers will still have to follow the safety measures they have put in place.
Some supermarkets introduced stricter shopping rules in September because of rising coronavirus cases, including some limits on items you could buy.
Even though there is enough to go round, these limits remain in place at some stores so people who need essentials and can’t travel, like the elderly and vulnerable, don’t go without.
Many supermarkets are also encouraging shoppers to go alone to stores to reduce the number of people inside.
The good news is that the vast majority of rules have not changed and the measures in place are so everyone can feel safer when shopping.
Here are the rules for shopping in store and any buying limits you need to be aware of.
At Asda, there are no new rules in place for lockdown or plans to introduce limits or restrictions on purchases, but it has increased safety measures.
Marshals returned to Asda’s doors in September when stricter rules for wearing face coverings were introduced and they will remind people about having to wear a face mask unless there’s an exemption.
Anyone who forgets their mask will be able to pick up one at the door and start wearing it, then pay for it at the end of their shop.
Asda will start using automatic counting technology to help it manage the number of people in store and at some locations, there are trials of a queuing app so you can wait in your car until your scheduled time to enter the store.
Marshals will now also be in busy parts of larger stores to manage the flow of people and maintain social distancing.
Asda is advising shoppers to keep two metres away from other customers and staff, including at counters, as well as to avoid touching items, only picking up what you buy.
The supermarket will also be applying a layer of antimicrobial material to its trollies and baskets to help stop the spread of bacteria and is adding more sanitisation stations.
Alongside this, it’s asking people to pay with a card or mobile device where possible and at tills it also has plastic screens.
All tills will be open at the busiest times to help reduce long queues and backlogs of people wanting to pay.
Aldi did previously have some product restrictions in place but has eased them as it doesn’t “feel they are still necessary”.
It said it “will be selling Specialbuys as normal across England, as per the government guidelines.”
Items will be sold as normal when they are in mixed aisles.
There continues to be a traffic light queuing system operating at Aldi to manage shopper numbers along with a range of other safety measures.
Face coverings are mandatory, unless exempt, as they are in all shop and there is social distancing markets in store which shoppers should follow.
Aldi is advising customers to avoid busy times, which is usually 11am-3pm and to shop alone if you can.
And there are perspex screens at tills and when you’re there, pay with card or other contactless option where possible.
There are priority opening times for the elderly and vulnerable every Monday and Saturday when stores open 30 minutes earlier, and the same for NHS staff and emergency workers on Sundays.
Supermarket home deliveries
HERE’S what other supermarkets charge for their home delivery services.
- Asda delivery charges range between £3 and £5.50. There’s a £40 minimum spend on home delivery orders and a £25 minimum spend for click and collect.
- Iceland offers free home delivery, but you have to spend a minimum of £35 to place an order.
- Morrisons delivery slots cost between £1.70 and £6.90. There’s a £40 minimum spend on home deliveries.
- Waitrose doesn’t charge for delivery, but you need to spend a minimum of £60.
- Sainsbury’s charges between 50p and £7 for delivery. There’s a £25 minimum spend.
- Tesco charges £4.50 for all delivery slots. There’s a £25 minimum spend.
- Ocado orders less than £75 cost between £2.99 and £6.99. More expensive orders are free.
Lidl has no store-wide restrictions in place, but managers are able to bring in limits to their specific shop if they spot customers panic buying.
The supermarket said it’s not experiencing any product shortages and that there is good availability in stores and is asking customers to be mindful of others when shopping.
Lidl is asking shoppers to avoid busy times, usually between 8am and 11pm, and has guards at the doors to limit entry at busy times.
Face masks must be worn in store and there are social distancing markers and signage in place while at the checkouts, there are screens and contactless purchases are encouraged.
The elderly, vulnerable and single parent families should ask for assistance if they need it.
Some Tesco stores in England are barricading off “non-essential” sections such as clothing departments when they’re on a separate floor.
Stores introduced similar measures during the 17-day national lockdown last month in Wales earlier this month.
It comes after the government issued fresh guidance on what’s called “mixed retail” – that’s where a shop is selling different types of items.
It says that aisles in supermarkets where non-essential items are available will not be closed or blocked off.
But where there is a more substantial standalone section within a supermarket, this should close.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “In line with new government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the clothing and general merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level.”
In other changes to be aware of, some larger Tesco stores have a traffic light system in place to manage the number of people in store.
The supermarket is also encouraging shoppers to visit stores on their own to help maintain social distancing measures.
But if customers need to bring children or shop with a carer for example, then that is allowed.
And if a queue develops outside and it’s raining, Tesco is providing umbrellas for customers, which have been fully sanitised.
When in store, follow social distancing markers and signage, make use of hand sanitiser and cleaning stations and use contactless payment where possible.
There are plastic screens at the till, but it’s still mandatory to where a mask inside, unless you are exempt.
If you forget your face covering, there are ones available when you enter the store which you can wear immediately and then pay for with the rest of your shopping.
Vulnerable customers will still find dedicated shopping hours to help reduce the risk and these can be found by checking with your local store.
And NHS staff, emergency services and care workers will get priority access.
Tesco brought back some limits on the items you can purchase back in September, while there are some restrictions which have been in place since early on in the pandemic.
There’s a limit of three per person in store on five items:
- dried pasta
- toilet roll
- baby wipes
- anti-bacterial wipes
Online restrictions include:
- face coverings
- anti-bacterial products
- some items such as rice and canned veg.
Tesco has also had a limit of 95 items per online order in place since April and that’s still the case now.
The supermarket has a priority shopping hour every Wednesday and Sunday between 9am-10am for our more vulnerable and elderly customers.
Morrisons is one of the supermarkets which has previously had a small number of restrictions in place.
In September it introduced a three per person limit on a small number of key products, including toilet roll and disinfectant.
Morrisons has confirmed these limits remain in place and there are no new restrictions being introduced for the new lockdown.
NHS staff get a priority hour from Monday to Saturday between 6am and 7am and on Sunday, either at 9am or an hour before usual opening if later than that.
There are marshals on the doors at Morrisons, social distancing measures in place and perspex screens at tills.
And shoppers must wear a face covering as per the government guidelines, unless exempt.
We’ve contacted Sainsbury’s for confirmation of this and we’ll update this article.
The supermarket says it has good availability and there are no current product restrictions in place.
When visiting Sainsbury’s stores, keep in mind the rules it has in place will continue during lockdown.
That includes wearing a face covering, unless you’re exempt, and there will be staff reminding you of this as you enter – they will also be able to help you if you arrive without a mask.
Here’s how to cut the cost of your grocery shop
SAVING on your shop can make a big difference to your wallet. Here are some tips from Money.co.uk about how you can cut the cost of your shopping bills:
- Write yourself a list – Only buy items that you need. If it isn’t on your list, don’t put it in the trolley
- Create a budget – Work out a weekly budget for your food shopping
- Never shop hungry – you are far more likely to buy more food if your tummy is rumbling
- Don’t buy pre-chopped veggies or fruit – The extra they’ll charge for chopping can be eye watering
- Use social media – follow your favourite retailers to find out about the latest deals
- Be disloyal – You may want to go to different stores to find the best bargains
- Check the small print – It’s always worth checking the price per kg/lb/litre when comparing offers so you’re making a like for like decision as a bigger box won’t necessarily mean you get more
- Use your loyalty cards – Don’t be afraid to sign up to them all. They all work slightly differently – work out what bonus suits you better and remember to trade in your points for additional rewards
There is priority access for NHS and care workers between 7.30am and 8am from Monday to Saturday.
And then for elderly, vulnerable and disabled shoppers there is priority entry between 8am and 9am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
When in store there are sanitation stations, perspex safety screens at tills and social distancing markers and signs.
The supermarket also advises shoppers to avoid busy times, shop alone, keep two trolleys apart from other customers and pay with card or mobile where possible.
On the website it advises: “We are asking everyone to only send one adult per household to our shops where possible.
“Our store teams will be asking groups with more than one adult to choose one adult to shop and will ask other adults to wait.
“Children are welcome if they are not able to stay at home.”
Sainsbury’s confirmed these measures have been in place for many months.
There may also be queuing systems for entry, depending on how busy it is.
Marks and Spencer
Food halls within M&S stores and standalone food halls will remain open during lockdown.
But the supermarket is reported to have closed off its clothing and homeware floors in some stores, according to Retail Gazette.
We’ve contacted M&S for confirmation of this and we’ll update this article when we know more.
Staff on doors will continue to manage the number of people in store.
M&S also has a mobile pay option that helps you avoid queues in some stores.
With the M&S mobile pay and go app, you can scan your shopping as you go and pay at the end with it instead of at the checkout, though only on shops of less than £30 and you have to be a member of its Sparks loyalty scheme.
And it’s just introduced a way to book a shopping spot so you don’t have to queue to get in.
The “book and shop” service means you can queue virtually and arrive for a pre-booked 30 minute slot without having to wait.
Safety measures in store such as social distancing markers and signage, hand sanitiser and perspex screens will continue to be in place.
The rule on wearing face masks in shops will continue to apply too of course.
Don’t forget you can always shop online or use click and collect, but don’t hang about if you’re shopping for Christmas – delivery slots are filling up fast.
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