Shoppers have been pictured squeezing together at supermarkets this morning, ignoring social distancing rules and raising fears that stores could become the new superspreaders of coronavirus.
Under government guidelines, people are supposed to stay 6ft apart from others if they have to go outside, but shoppers at several supermarkets all over the UK this morning have been flouting the rules while stocking up on essentials.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Brits to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.
However, people are still allowed to leave their homes to shop for basic necessities, leading to supermarkets being flooded with customers and fears that they will become hotbeds of the virus.
Several major chains are now introducing new measures to try and enforce social distancing and protect staff.
Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Sainsbury’s have brought in protective screens for staff, and Waitrose – which is introducing ‘two-metre marshalls’ who will manage queues outside shops – has ordered screens and visors for its workers.
In other coronavirus developments in the UK:
- London and Madrid are facing worse coronavirus outbreaks than Lombardy in Italy with deaths doubling every two days
- Parliament is set to go into recess tonight a week early after pushing through a series of emergency coronavirus laws – with no return date;
- Sadiq Khan revealed it is inevitable he will have to cut Tube services even further because one in three staff are now off sick – despite mass overcrowding on the Underground;
- NHS medics working across the UK fighting the coronavirus pandemic threatened to ‘quit the profession’ over a lack of personal protection;
- Prisons could release some offenders to ease the pressure caused by coronavirus after jails in England and Wales were put on immediate lockdown last night;
- The UK’s coronavirus death toll jumped to 422 in the biggest daily rise yet, while people still cram on the tubes and mingle in parks.
People queuing at Tesco on Bow Road by the Mile End flyover in London this morning, failing to heed social distancing rules
Early morning shoppers queue outside waiting for the Morrisons supermarket to open in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, this morning
Despite having to stay 6ft apart, the shoppers crowded close together as they waited to get into the supermarket in Mile End
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Brits to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus
Police officers monitor the queues outside Tesco in Mile End, London this morning, as people cram together and ignore social distancing
Waitrose calls its policies ‘a set of strong, new measures’ to help its customers shop safely.
The company said the number of customers allowed in 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 the shop is at capacity.
Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind people to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.
Waitrose 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.
Morrisons, which has already put up perspex screens, is introducing signage in stores to support social distancing, including floor stickers, posters and banners which will ask customers to keep one trolley distance apart, as well as giving guidance on where to wait and where to queue.
Shoppers in an East London Asda ignore social distancing rules as they stock up on essentials this morning
People, including babies, are tightly packed together at this east London Asda as they stock up on groceries
People queuing at Tesco on Bow Road by the Mile End flyover in London this morning, ignoring social distancing rules
People, young and old, cram into the Asda in east London to buy groceries, while flouting social distancing rules
Taped-off areas for customers to distance themselves from each other are seen at the checkout area of a local Tesco store in London
The taped off areas are one of several safety measures introduced by supermarkets to protect staff and workers amid the coronavirus pandemic
Long queues with people closely stood together were spotted in the London Asda this morning
It comes as Asda said it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance
Asda has also announced similar measures, saying it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance, and will install perspex screens at its checkouts.
Hand sanitiser will be available for customers to use when entering and departing.
A number of self-service machine will also be shut in order to enforce the two-metre rule, a spokesperson told MailOnline.
Sainsbury’s said it is ‘working through the detail’ but expects to restrict the number of people allowed in stores at any one time, and will also be introducing barriers outside to ensure people queue at a safe distance when waiting to get in.
The supermarket said it will also have reminders to keep two metres apart displayed throughout stores, screens at manned checkouts, and will close every other payment point to help keep people apart.
On Tuesday afternoon, Marks & Spencer said its 31 outlet stores selling only clothing and homeware will be temporarily closed.
M&S said when customers arrive at its food stores, they will see a ‘greeter’ who will ensure the number of customers in the store at any one time is managed.
Workers redeployed from the clothing and home departments will help support limiting customer numbers entering the store.
M&S said trolleys, baskets, screens and all touch points will be cleaned every hour and deep cleaned every night.
The stores will have floor markings in queuing areas to remind customers about social distancing and ‘sneeze guards’ will be in place.
Customers will be asked not to scan their Sparks card and cash payments are discouraged.
Nationwide Building Society has reduced its branch opening hours in response to the crisis, with most branches now opening from 10am until 2pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am until 12pm on Saturday.
Nationwide said there will be a two-metre distance rule between staff and customers at all times, while numbers of people in branches will be restricted to ensure rules around space can be controlled as much as possible.
Where possible, customers are being asked to use online or mobile banking services, particularly those at higher risk.
Santander said its branches will remain open where possible, but a number of its more vulnerable workers are currently being advised to stay at home while others are self-isolating.
Due to this, the bank has been unable to open a number of its branches.
Meanwhile, Unison said shopping centres, pubs, gyms and other businesses are being urged to provide free parking to NHS and care staff.
The union, which represents NHS, school, police, care and other essential key public service workers, is calling on local businesses closed because of the lockdown to help key workers drive to work and avoid public transport.
Sadiq Khan defies instruction from Boris Johnson to increase London’s dangerously cramped Tubes and is now threatening to cut services EVEN MORE ‘because a THIRD of TfL staff are off sick’
Sadiq Khan sparked more fury today and defied Boris Johnson as he warned Tube services will be cut back even further because one in three staff are now off sick – up from one in five overnight – despite dangerous conditions on trains for terrified coronavirus key workers.
The Prime Minister has told the Mayor of London to add more trains but London’s Tube network is packed again with Mr Khan accused of ‘risking lives’ after slashing number of trains at a time of national emergency.
Today one in three of TfL staff are ill or in self-isolation – including large numbers of drivers and customer-facing workers – with the sickness figures appearing to be disproportionately higher than among frontline workers in the NHS, police and fire services. Some have blamed the strength of the Tube unions and their threat to pull away members for the high level of staff absence.
MailOnline can reveal that during rush hour today some London Underground lines are currently only running one train every twenty minutes, when it should be one every three to five minutes, causing more crammed conditions in ‘death trap’ carriages and on heaving platforms.
As deaths in the capital doubled, the Mayor of London is facing mounting fury and pressure to restore services to normal levels with some NHS workers claiming they are now more worried about travelling to work than treating coronavirus patients in hospital.
But in a statement Mayor Khan this morning revealed more train services will go and said: ‘Nearly a third of TfL’s staff are now off sick or self-isolating – including train drivers and crucial control centre staff. Many of them have years of safety-critical training in order to run specific lines – so it is simply not possible to replace them with others. TfL will do everything possible to continue safely running a basic service for key workers, including our amazing NHS staff, but if the number of TfL staff off sick or self-isolating continues to rise – as we sadly expect it will – we will have no choice but to reduce services further.’.
There were grim scenes on the Tube again today where commuters with no choice but to go to work were faced to stand nose-to-nose with strangers on teeming trains.
London Underground tube passengers try to squeeze onto a carriage on the Central Line at White City this morning with services set to become even less frequent, according to underfire Mayor of London Sadiq Khan