What are supermarket rules and shopping guidance in lockdown 3?

Tesco, Copdock.

Tesco, Copdock. Supermarkets are asking customers to shop alone where possible as lockdown returns - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

When you head for the supermarket in lockdown, what rules do you need to obey - and what are stores doing to help their customers?

Customers at all supermarkets are required to wear face coverings, unless they are exempt, and to obey social distancing rules. Numbers of people in all stores are limited and a whole range of safety measures are in place.

If you are shopping in person rather than ordering online, here are some additional requirements and actions from the various leading supermarkets in Suffolk and north Essex. 

ASDA in Ipswich - Whitehouse.

Asda at Whitehouse in Ipswich - Credit: Phil Morley

Asda: The supermarket chain has marshals meeting customers, who will check you have a mask and help if you have forgotten it. They will also provide sanitised baskets and trolleys as you go in, and a protective antimicrobial coating has been applied to basket and trolley handles.

Customers are being asked to limit touching products as much as possible and to pay by card if they can. There is a limit on numbers in store, and shopping by yourself if possible is recommended. The store has not announced any restrictions on how many products you can buy.

Tesco: The store has been limiting purchases of a number of essential items to ensure there are enough to go round. It is currently limiting toilet roll purchases to one item per shopper. 

There are also three-item limits in store on flour, dried pasta, eggs, rice, baby wipes, soap and anti-bacterial wipes, but not on hand gels and sanitiser.  It also has a 95-item limit on online orders. These limits were already in place before lockdown.

Like other supermarkets, Tesco is encouraging people to shop alone. A "traffic light" system is in operation at some larger stores to manage flow. If there is a queue outside and it is raining, sanitised umbrellas will be handed out. Face coverings are available near the front of stores if you need to buy one.

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NHS, emergency service, and care workers with IDs can have priority access at all times, and there are also dedicated hours for vulnerable customers, which are usually from 9 to 10am on Wednesday and Sunday (for browsing only) but may vary at different stores. 

Sainsbury's: Households are asked only to send one adult to shop in store where possible. Greeters will meet shoppers and check they are wearing masks, and can give help if you don't have a face covering. 

The store has sent out an email to customers saying: "We are asking all customers to please wear a mask and to shop alone. This will help us limit the number of people shopping at any one time and help everyone shop and work safely. We'll also have posters and tannoy messages making it really clear that everyone must wear a mask, unless you have an exemption." 

The store has not announced any current restrictions on numbers of products which each shopper can buy, but says: "If we all continue to buy just what we need, there will be enough food for everyone."

Elderly and vulnerable customers and NHS and care workers with an NHS ID are entitled to priority access and can skip the queue at any time.

Morrisons: The store chain is one of those which previously restricted purchases some items, such as disinfectants and toilet rolls, to ensure there are enough to go round. However, it has reportedly since scrapped these limits.

The supermarket has marshals and social distancing measures, and encourages people to shop alone. There is a priority hour for NHS and key workers from 6am to 7am Monday to Saturday and and 9-9.30am on Sundays, before normal opening, and it also has a discount scheme for NHS and key workers.

Aldi: Restrictions are currently in place on a small number of items - so each customers can only buy three units of toilet roll, pasta, flour and eggs.

The Aldi website says it has good stock availability, but says it is limiting purchases of these items to ensure all customers are able to buy them.

Aldi stores have a traffic light queuing system with social distance markers. Shoppers are being asked to visit alone if they can and to avoid the busiest times if possible, which are normally between 11am and 3pm.

There are priority opening times for vulnerable and elderly customers from Monday to Saturday, 30 minutes before normal opening times , and30 minutes access for NHS staff, care workers and emergency workers before opening on Sundays.

Lidl: Lidl also has a traffic light system for queuing, and is asking shoppers to avoid the busiest times if possible. Its website says its busiest times are from 8am to 11am and quietest times after 2pm, although this may vary in different stores.

The Lidl website says: "Wherever possible, try to shop alone to reduce the wait for other customers."

Customers are asked only to touch items they want to buy, and disposable gloves are being made available in bakery areas so that customers can bag loose items safely. 

Marks & Spencer:  M&S food halls remain open, and it is possible to book your slot ahead for shopping to avoid queues, by using the Sparks Book & Shop service. Customers can also scan items and pay via their phone up to £45 by using the M&S app.

Hosts will meet customers when they arrive, and M&S is asking customers to shop alone if possible.

Waitrose: The store currently has limits on purchases of some essentials. It says on its website: "Our stock levels remain strong and we continue to have some caps on a very small number of products to ensure all our customers are able to get the products they need."

The store has marshals to remind customers of the rules on face coverings. It is also limiting customer numbers and asking couples not to shop together.

The store says on its website: "We prioritise  disabled, elderly and vulnerable customers whenever there’s a queue outside one of our shops – and we’ll continue to prioritise NHS workers and carers on production of suitable ID, too."

East of England Co-op: Customers are being asked to visit food stores alone where possible, closely supervise children at all times, keep their distance from others and continue good hand hygiene practices.

The Co-op website says: "Please wait outside all stores and branches before entering, if required, as we continue to manage the number of customers in our stores and branches."

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