Waitrose and other supermarkets introduce social distancing measures - here's how they work

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 6:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 6:16 pm

Following calls for stricter social distancing policies, Waitrose will be enforcing new rules in-store to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

New rules announced on 23 March instructed those retailers remaining open during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that a two-metre distance between customers and staff is enforced at all times, with shoppers entering in small groups.

Retailers have also been ordered to manage queues outside their stores to protect shoppers from transmission of the virus.

What new rules is Waitrose enforcing?

As Waitrose is considered an essential service - providing food to shoppers - Waitrose stores will remain open during the coronavirus lockdown, but the supermarket chain is now enforcing new measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus between shoppers and staff.

The amount of customers allowed into the store at any one time will be limited. This limit will be specific to each branch given the number of tills varies in each supermarket.

Shop managers will be in charge of setting the limit, and when it is deemed to be full, a one in, one out policy will be implemented.

The supermarket will continue to dedicate the first hour of trading to elderly and vulnerable customers (plus those caring for them) while NHS staff will continue to receive priority checkout service.

Other measures include encouraging shoppers to use contactless when paying for goods as well as using the QuickCheck App which reduces handling of products and speeds up checkout with a minimal amount of contact.

Marshals will also be used to manage distance between shoppers, with signs and a coned area directing customers to maintain the recommended two-metre distance between themselves and others in the store.

Waitrose has also ordered checkout screens and protective visors to keep both shoppers and staff safe, and will be closing checkouts where shop assistants sit back-to-back.

What measures are other supermarkets implementing?

Most other supermarkets have announced that they will be rolling out protective screens across all stores to protect shoppers and staff from transmission of coronavirus. Most have also said they will enforce social distancing measures in-store and in outdoor queues.

Like Waitrose, the Co-op and Sainsbury’s will be closing tills where assistants sit back-to back.

Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks & Spencer confirmed that they would also be limiting the amount of shoppers allowed in-store at any one time.

Asda have also announced that they will be asking shoppers to only touch items that they wanted to purchase, as well as offering hand sanitiser at the entrance and exit of stores.

Marks and Spencer will be cleaning screens, trolleys, baskets and all touch points every hour, additionally deep cleaning them every night to allow customers to "shop with confidence".

Most supermarkets have implemented limits on the amount of any one product that customers are allowed to purchase. This limit varies between supermarket chains.