Coronavirus: What are supermarkets doing to enforce social distancing?

With the country on lockdown, people are being told to stay at least two metres away from one another and only leave the house if necessary.

Supermarkets have been taking measures to enforce the rules, with some limiting the number of people allowed in stores, whilst others have place markers on floors around busy areas to show people how far apart they should remain.

What are the UK's main supermarkets doing to enforce the social distancing rules?

New social distancing regulations are in place at British supermarkets. Credit: PA / ITV


Customers queuing two meters apart outside a Sainsburys store in Bristol. Credit: PA

In a letter to customers, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said the number of people allowed in stores and at ATMs at any one time will be limited.

He said queuing systems will be put in place outside stores and people are urged to arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning and encouraged people to pay by card.

“We will be reminding people in stores to keep a safe distance from other customers and from our colleagues,” added Mr Coupe.

In previous days, this has been done through pre-recorded tannoy announcements played every few minutes.

Some stores have had members of staff stood on the door, allowing only a certain number of customers inside at any one time.

Mr Coupe said the number of checkouts will be reduced and screens will be introduced to protect staff.

The chain has reduced the number of checkouts available and installed screens to protect staff who are serving customers.

It has also reduced its opening hours, with many stores now only opening from 8am to 8pm.


Tesco has introduced tape on its store floors to enforce social distancing. Credit: PA

Tesco boss Dave Lewis has written to customers saying staff will draw new floor markings in the checkout areas, install protective screens on checkouts, and introduce one-way aisles.

“Our social distancing plans aim to protect customers from the moment they enter our car parks, to browsing products, to paying and finally exiting our stores,” he wrote.

He said queuing systems will be put in place outside stores and people are urged to arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning and encouraged people to pay by card.

The majority of its larger Extra stores are now open from 6am - 10pm.


Asda said its delivery workers are using contactless drop offs during the pandemic. Credit: PA

Asda said it would introduce screens around tills to protect staff in the coming days, adding that social distancing measures limiting the number of people in its stores at any one time would be used "where necessary".

Floor markers have been added in key areas of shops to outline two metres between customers, the supermarket said in a statement on its website.

The brand has already reduced opening hours of stores to 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, to help staff clean and fully restock shelves.

As well as bringing in special hours for NHS workers, it had placed limits on how many items of certain products can be ordered in-store.

For customers able to get home delivery, it has introduced contactless drop-offs, whilst staff have access to facemasks and hand sanitiser.


Customers queue up outside a Morrisons store in Whitley Bay, adhering to new social distancing regulations. Credit: PA

In a statement to ITV News, Morrisons said it is employing marshalls to monitor and observe social distancing in its stores, they will be able to pause the flow of customers into the store if it is deemed necessary.

In addition to this, floor vinyls are being placed to show customers how far apart two meters is, and only every other checkout being opened.

Should checkouts get busy, there will be dedicated queuing zones.

Morrisons has reduced its opening hours, now letting customers shop 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday.

Sunday opening hours remain unaffected.

To help NHS staff, Morrisons is allowing them to shop in the store between 7am and 8am after displaying health service ID.

Like others, the supermarket is coping with unprecedented demand.

Its website is using a queuing system, with more than 152,000 waiting to get on it on Thursday morning.


A Coop sign at one of its south London stores, enforcing social distancing. Credit: ITV News

Co-op has announced new measures to enforce social distancing in its stores in a bid to protect customers and staff from the spread of coronavirus.

The retail giant has introduced a range of measures across its 2,600 stores, including floor markers which will define a one-metre distance throughout the store and two-metre spacing for customer queues.

it is also aiming to limit the number of customers in stores at any one time as well as reducing the number of tills open, to allow greater distance between shoppers.


Waitrose is enforcing the social distancing regulations, like other supermarkets. Credit: PA

Waitrose has said it is limiting the number of customers in its stores at any one time, with marshalls enforcing the social distancing regulations.

Like other supermarkets, it is introducing floor signage to further reinforce the message.

Screens have also been placed around tills to protect workers from the spread of Covid-19.

The brand is asking that only one customer or family occupy a lift at any one time.

It is encouraging customers to shop in a cashless and contactless way, to prevent unnecessary contact.

Waitrose shops are setting aside a proportion of hard-to-find and essential products exclusively for NHS staff, on production of an NHS card.

It is also giving NHS staff priority checkout service to ensure they are able to get through as quickly and easily as possible.


Aldi has installed screens at checkouts to protect its staff. Credit: Aldi

Aldi has introduced a number of new measures to encourage effective social distancing, and to protect colleagues and customers in-store.

It is introducing plastic screens at more than 7,000 checkouts across the country.

Like its rivals, it is installing two-metre markers on the floors of stores to encourage responsible social distancing at the checkout.

Customers are being encouraged to use contactless payment such as credit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay, wherever possible, rather than using cash.

Reduced opening hours and in-store notices are being used to further reinforce social distancing and allow staff to safely restock.


Customers queueing up outside a Lidl store in south London. Credit: PA

In a statement to ITV News, Lidl said: "We have implemented a crowd control system in order to try to manage social distancing within our stores.

"One of the measures we are introducing as part of this is positioning security guards or designated team members at store entrances to monitor the volume of people entering at one time.

"We have also rolled out a raft of clear communication materials in all of our stores, reminding customers of the importance of maintaining a two-metre distance from each other when shopping.

"We are also in the process of implementing checkout protection screens across all of our stores, which will be in place this week, to provide extra safeguards for both colleagues and customers."

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know