What measures are supermarkets taking to keep customers safe?

From social distancing to priority slots for key workers and the vulnerable, retailers are working to protect customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Supermarkets across the UK are introducing robust measures to help keep staff and customers safe amid lockdown conditions across the UK.

It was announced on Thursday that some chains will be using the Government’s data on those most at risk from coronavirus to help vulnerable people get the supplies they need.

Other steps taken include ensuring frontline workers such as police and healthcare staff get their food first before shops officially open to the rest of the public.

Here’s a breakdown of the measures currently in place at each supermarket.

Aldi

On Saturday, Aldi said nurses, police officers and firefighters will take priority in its queues.

They will also be given early access on a Sunday, 30 minutes before the tills open.

In a statement, the supermarket said: “All day, every day, key workers in the NHS, police and fire service will take priority ahead of queues into our stores upon showing a valid ID.

“This is in addition to early access on a Sunday, where they can enter stores 30 minutes prior to opening.”

– Asda

A police officer walks past a queue of shoppers outside an Asda store in Norwich (Joe Giddens/PA)

In a similar move to Aldi, Asda will be offering all NHS workers priority access on goods on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8am to 9am.

It also announced a dedicated team would work with the Government to get supplies to those most in need.

The chain will also be helping its staff by providing full pay to colleagues who have been identified by the Government as needing to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

It will offer fully paid leave to those who are vulnerable – or to carers.

It also warned its customers not to enter their shops if they have shortness of breath, fever or continuous cough and advised shoppers to stay two metres away from their cashiers.

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has introduced stringent measures to protect staff and customers.

In a letter to customers last week, chief executive Mike Coupe said the number of people allowed in stores and at ATMs at any one time would be limited.

He said queuing systems will be put in place outside stores and people are urged to arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning. The chain is also encouraging people to pay by card.

On Friday, the supermarket said it would soon see the Government data on those considered vulnerable to Covid-19 and would prioritise delivery slots for those most at risk.

– Tesco

Tape marks out two-metre sections on the floor to implement social distancing (Joe Giddens/PA)

Tesco has introduced floor markings of two metres, and is limiting the flow of customers being allowed into stores when necessary. Hand sanitiser is provided for customer and staff use and protective screens have been installed at checkouts.

On Friday, the chain said that all online orders will be capped at a maximum of 80 items.

Previously, most online shoppers at Tesco had fewer than 60 items in their basket, the store said, however a spike in orders with more than 100 items selected had encouraged the company to implement the new limit.

Morrisons and Lidl have also installed protective screen across all their checkouts.

–  Iceland

Elderly shoppers enter the branch of Iceland in the Kennedy Centre, Belfast, which has opened an hour early at 8am (Liam McBurney/PA)

Iceland has updated its store opening hours and the vast majority will be open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, with NHS staff welcomed between 5pm and 6pm, or during the final trading hour.

The retailer has also added a pop-up to its online shopping site, enabling the elderly and the vulnerable to be prioritised.

– Co-op

The retailer has introduced a range of measures across its 2,600 stores, including floor markers which will define a one-metre distance throughout its aisles and two-metre spacing for customer queues.

It has also changed its opening times to accommodate vulnerable workers and NHS staff.

– Waitrose

People observe social distancing while queuing at a Waitrose supermarket (Morgan Harlow/PA)

Last week, Waitrose set out a range of measures to help customers.

The company said the number of customers allowed in store at any one time will be limited so that social distancing can be observed, and a “one in, one out” policy will be operated when it is judged that a shop is at capacity.

Marshals will help to manage queues outside shops and, if necessary, remind people to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

It will also dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them, while NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

There will also be “safe distance” floor signage, protective screens at checkouts, and additional security.