How are UK supermarkets implementing Covid-19 restrictions?

Jessica Paige 6 October 2020 (Last Updated October 6th, 2020 10:48)

Retail Insight Network looks into how different supermarket chains have implemented restrictions, nationwide and in the constituent countries of the UK.

How are UK supermarkets implementing Covid-19 restrictions?
Supermarkets across the UK have implemented Covid-19 restrictions in different ways to each other.

The UK Government has imposed restrictions on retail establishments to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Retail Insight Network looks into how different supermarket chains have implemented restrictions, nationwide and in the constituent countries of the UK.

Public and priority opening times

Tesco: Tesco has extended opening hours to manage the flow of people in its stores. The supermarket suggests that customers use its store locator to find out the opening times of their local store, as opening times are dependent on store location. The store locator will also state priority hours for the elderly and the vulnerable.

Asda: Asda’s opening times vary depending on location so the supermarket suggests that customers use its store locator to find out more information about their local store.

Asda does not have special opening hours for the elderly and vulnerable but instead offers a volunteer shopping card which will allow people to buy goods for others. The card can be used for contactless payments.

Sainsbury’s: Sainsbury’s has extended opening hours from 7 am to 10 pm or 11 pm depending on location to help the flow of foot traffic. Sunday’s hours will be as usual.

NHS and care workers have priority entrance from 7:30 am to 8 am, Monday to Saturday and elderly and vulnerable customers have priority entrance from 8 am to 9 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Morrisons: Most Morrisons stores will be open from 7 am to 10 pm on weekdays and 9:30 am to 4 pm on Sunday. However, the supermarket recommends customers check its store locator to find out the opening hours for their local store.

According to the supermarkets’ website, any colleagues with an NHS badge can enter the store to “stock up on the products they need” 6 am-7 am, Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, the majority of Morrisons stores will be open at 9 am for NHS workers and 9:30 am for the public.

In Scotland, shops will open at 7 am.

Waitrose: Waitrose’s opening hours vary depending on the store. The supermarket suggests customers use its branch locator to find out the public and priority opening hours of their local store. Generally, priority hours are held in the first trading hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Aldi: Aldi has extended opening times to manage foot traffic, stating that its busiest times are between 11 am and 3 pm.

In general, most stores are open 8 am to 10 pm with priority entrance 7:30 am to 8 am Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours remain 10 am to 4 pm, however, the supermarket suggests customers use its store finder to find out opening times for their local store.

Policy on face masks

Tesco: Wearing a face mask in Tesco is mandatory unless medically exempt. Masks are available at the front of stores to purchase in case customers forget to bring their own.

Asda: Asda offers packets of disposable masks at the entrance of every store in case customers forget to bring their own. All customers must wear a mask while shopping unless they are medically exempt. Any staff not able to wear a mask will be wearing a badge to inform customers that they are medically exempt.

Sainsbury’s: Sainsbury’s staff will not be challenging customers not wearing a face mask in stores, however, greeters will be outside stores to remind customers to wear facial coverings. If customers are without one, staff will be able to direct customers to where they can purchase one.

Morrisons: Morrisons is offering sunflower lanyards as a discreet way to identify customers with disabilities that make them unable to wear a mask and who may need additional help. The supermarket is also said to be handing out free face masks to shoppers who forget their own, though this has not been confirmed by the supermarket.

Waitrose: Waitrose states that staff cannot enforce customers to wear masks, but ‘marshals’ positioned at the front of stores will remind customers of rules. Anyone exempt from wearing a mask will need to tell the marshal before entering the store.

Aldi: Aldi staff are encouraged to prompt customers to wear face masks but are not able to enforce the rule.

Restrictions and guidelines in place

Tesco: Tesco has recently introduced a traffic light system in its stores after panic buying started to recur amid fears of a second Covid-19 lockdown. This system will help manage foot traffic inside the stores.

Tesco will also be rationing stock to try and stop panic buying. There is a three-per-person limit on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes, and anti-bacterial wipes.

Asda: Asda has employed ‘safety marshals’ stationed at the front of stores and in aisles to assist customers with any safety concerns and help to implement mask policies. The store also recommends customers shop alone as foot traffic will be limited.

Sainsbury’s: Sainsbury’s has restrictions in place for certain products, such as pain relief and face masks. As well as this, only one adult per household will be allowed into the store and floors markings are in place to help maintain social distancing.

Morrisons: Morrisons has reintroduced buying restrictions on certain products, such as toilet rolls and sanitiser. It also encourages a “one person per trolley” system and offers a ‘speedy shopper’ queue that will allow customers with a smaller basket to enter the supermarket faster.

Waitrose: Waitrose limits the number of customers in its shops and requests that customers shop alone. Store marshals will help to manage queues.

Aldi: Aldi uses an ‘automated traffic light’ system to monitor when customers can enter the store. There are also markers on the floor to encourage social distancing, and contactless payment is encouraged.