WITH England still in lockdown, we explain the rules shoppers must follow when heading to supermarkets.
Supermarkets remain open as they are classed as essential shops under lockdown rules, so you can continue to buy food and other household items.
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However, customers will still have to follow the safety measures they have put in place, although there are concerns retailers aren't enforcing them.
In January, ministers told local councils to place limits on the number of people allowed into shops at any one time and to carry out fresh checks on safety policies.
Many supermarkets already have caps in place to help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
These limits vary depending on the size of the store – the more floor space there is, the greater number of shoppers can be inside at the same time.
Some stores have placed limits on the number of items you can buy to stop panic buying and ensure there is enough to go round.
The majority of retailers have also increased their stance on customers wearing face masks while shopping.
Here are the rules for shopping in store and any buying limits you need to be aware of.
Asda has increased safety measures to help shoppers buy groceries safely during England's third coronavirus lockdown.
Marshals will still be in place outside the entrance to 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.
Marshals will also be in busy parts of larger stores to manage the flow of people and maintain social distancing.
Automatic counting technology has been installed in 100 of the busiest Asda stores.
The software keeps tabs on how many shoppers are inside at any time so staff can stop more people entering when stores become full.
At this point, you'll be expected to wait outside until other customers leave.
In some locations, the retailer has rolled out its virtual queuing system run by a free app called Quidini.
The nifty service means customers can wait in their car instead of queuing outside one of the 421 larger stores if the shop is busy.
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 shoppers were previously limited to buying three packs of each of toilet roll, pasta, flour and eggs, but these restrictions have been eased.
Customers are still able to pick up Specialbuy items when in store.
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 shops, and there are social distancing markers 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.
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 retailer 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 signs in place, while at the checkouts there are screens.
The elderly, vulnerable and single parent families should ask for assistance if they need it.
Customers are encouraged to pay by contactless payment.
Larger Tesco stores have a traffic light system in place to manage the number of people in store – how many are allowed in at the same time depends on the size.
The supermarket is encouraging shoppers to visit stores on their own to help maintain social distancing measures, but if they need to bring children or shop with a carer for example, then that is allowed.
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 wear 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.
NHS staff, emergency services and care workers will get priority access.
Tesco brought back some limits on the items you can purchase in September, while some restrictions have been in place since early on in the pandemic.
Tesco currently has a three-item limit in store on the below products.
- toilet roll
- dried pasta
- baby wipes
- anti-bacterial wipes (excluding hand gels and sanitiser which are unlimited)
There are also additional limits for some products online, including the below:
- sunflower oil
- baked beans
- 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.
Some Tesco stores in England came under fire in November after barricading off “non-essential” sections such as clothing departments when they were on a separate floor.
Stores introduced similar measures during the 17-day lockdown in Wales in October in-line with strict government guidelines.
Morrisons is limiting the number of customers allowed in stores are the same time so you may be asked to queue outside at busier times.
In September, it introduced a three per person limit on a few key products, including toilet roll and disinfectant, but these have since been lifted.
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.
Shoppers must wear a face covering as per the government guidelines, unless exempt.
When visiting Sainsbury's stores, customers must wear 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.
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.
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 remain open during lockdown.
But the supermarket previously closed off its clothing and homeware floors in some stores, according to Retail Gazette.
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.
It recently 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.
Alternatively, don't forget that you can always shop online or use click and collect too.
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