SHOPPERS still have to follow certain rules when heading to the supermarket, even though some lockdown restrictions have eased.
We explain what you’ll need to keep in mind next time you’re heading out to do the weekly grocery shop.
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The third stage of lockdown restrictions easing came into force today which means Brits can now mix indoors under the rule of six.
It’s also brought the return of many businesses including indoor hospitality so you can now sit inside a pub or restaurant as well as the return of places like cinemas.
Shopping rules haven’t changed much since non-essential retail also returned last month during step two, but below are the ones you need to be aware of if you shop in-store at your local supermarket.
One rule, made at the beginning of the year, came into force when ministers told councils to place limits on the number of people allowed into shops at any one time and to carry out checks on policies.
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 also 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 increased their stance on customers wearing face masks while shopping.
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 is also 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 there are plastic screens positioned.
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 since 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.
The quietest times are supposed to be from 7pm until 10pm so that might be your best option for safe shopping.
There are perspex screens at tills and when you’re there, pay with card or other contactless option where possible.
Supermarket home deliveries
HERE’S what supermarkets are charging 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.
- 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 an extra £4 charge for anything under £40 too
- 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 in the morning between 8am and 11am, 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 screens are positioned at the checkouts.
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 should be 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 get priority access at any time by showing their work ID.
Tesco brought back some limits on the items you can purchase in September, but there are currently no buying limits in place.
There is a limit of 95 items per online order however.
Morrisons is limiting the number of customers allowed in stores at 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.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “Safety remains our highest priority and we continue to follow government guidance.”
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
The store also said that while no new rules have come into place since the latest restrictions have eased they “will keep customers and colleagues updated on plans.”
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.
For elderly or vulnerable customers there is a Volunteer Shopping Card scheme available to enable people to shop for others easily in store.
Marks and Spencer
Food halls within M&S stores and standalone food halls have been open throughout lockdown, and clothing and homeware departments within the store reopened on April 12.
The latest easing of lockdown restrictions on May 17 means cafes indoors at M&S are now open though, as well as the store officially announcing the reopening of changing rooms.
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 £45 and you have to be a member of its Sparks loyalty scheme.
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.
The new pub rules that come into force from May 17 have been explained – check out what you can and can’t do now lockdown has been eased more with our guide.
We also have the full list of businesses that still haven’t had the go-ahead to reopen yet but we do know when they can return.
Meanwhile, working from home measures will remain in place until at least June.