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Coronavirus: Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose and Aldi stores in Bishop's Stortford bring in new measures to protect staff and customers

Shoppers are facing stringent restrictions at Bishop's Stortford's supermarkets following Boris Johnson's decision on Monday to place the country in lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister decreed that only essential journeys should be made, with a limited list of shops and other businesses open to the public – which includes the town's five major supermarkets.

Waitrose, which has a store in Northgate End plus smaller outlets at the Shell garage in London Road and Birchanger Green services at junction 8 of the M11, issued a statement on Tuesday (March 24) backing Mr Johnson's plea for social distancing with a set of strong new measures designed to protect customers and staff.

The queue of some 200 elderly and vulnerable shoppers outside Sainsbury's at Thorley Park last Thursday (32305102)
The queue of some 200 elderly and vulnerable shoppers outside Sainsbury's at Thorley Park last Thursday (32305102)

These include limiting customer numbers in its stores at any one time – to 33 at Northgate End – introducing ‘safe distance’ floor signage, ‘two-metre marshals’ to help manage queues, protective screens at checkouts, additional security and encouraging contactless shopping.

Customers will be encouraged to download and use the QuickCheck App to further minimise contact when shopping, meaning products are handled less and customers with the large baskets will be able to check out through the self checkout channel with minimal contact with others.

As well as the roll-out of clear screens at more than 7,000 checkouts, which began on Monday, Aldi has introduced the following measures for the London Road store:

  • Two-metre markers on the floor to encourage responsible social distancing at the checkout.
  • Encouraging customers to use contactless payment such as credit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay, wherever possible, rather than cash.
  • A range of in-store notices reminding customers of the need for effective social distancing in store.
  • Reduced opening hours to help colleagues to restock products while stores are empty.

Sainsbury's said it would be introducing screens at manned checkouts at its stores in Jackson Square and Thorley Park "as soon as possible", along with two-metre reminders.

It will close every other payment point to keep people further apart and ask customers to use cards at tills and cash at self-service checkouts where they can.

It added: "We’re currently working through the detail, but we expect to restrict the number of people allowed in stores at any one time as well. We will also be introducing barriers outside stores to ensure people queue at a safe distance when they’re waiting to get in."

Elderly, vulnerable and disabled customers will have priority access to online delivery slots and it will be operating an expanded 'click and collect service'.

For priority shopping, Sainsbury's is reserving half an hour, from 7.30am to 8am, Mondays to Saturdays for NHS and social care workers and opening for elderly customers from 8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The town's Marks and Spencer store in South Street will only be selling food. Social distancing measures were brought in on Tuesday, plus customers will see a 'greeter' at the doors who will ensure numbers of shoppers are managed.

Floor markings have been brought in at the queuing areas and elsewhere to help people adhere to the 2m social distancing rule. In a bid to encourage customers not to use cash, the contactless limit has been raised to £45. 'Sneeze guards' are being brought in at check-outs.

Trolleys, baskets, screens and all touch points are being cleaned every hour and deep-cleaned every night.

Tesco similarly is limiting the number of customers allowed in its Bishop's Park store and has brought in a priority hour from 9am to 10am for vulnerable and elderly customers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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