Supermarket lockdown rules: Can I pay cash and what are the opening times?

30 March 2020, 08:01 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Shoppers queue outside a supermarket
Shoppers queue outside a supermarket. Picture: PA

The Government’s new social distancing rules have had profound implications on how we shop for essential goods. So what can you still do, what is now prohibited?

For starters, panic buying has hit a number of stores across the country with normally full aisles empty and customers queuing hours become shops open due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following the government’s news social distancing rules, a number of supermarkets have introduced special measures to ensure those most in need in society are able to function. One of the changes includes how customers can pay in supermarkets.

Can I pay cash at the supermarkets?

Many supermarkets have expressed concern for their staff and insisted on protective gear especially for those at the tills.

Measures have been taken in many branches where the use of cash is discouraged to cut down on potentially virus-covered cash being passed around the population.

Instead, supermarkets are trying to encourage shoppers to pay by contactless card.

The limit for debit and credit cards sits at £35 - something which has proven a problem for those trying to pay for larger shops to reduce the number of trips to the shops.

From next week, the limit will rise from £30 to £45 for a single transaction in some shops, making it easier for shoppers to pay for their goods in a single payment.

The change will come into place in some shops from Wednesday 1 April and will continue to roll on throughout the UK after that.

What are supermarket lockdown opening times?

Tesco has implemented special opening times for the elderly and vulnerable and early closures to help restock shelves.

On Sundays, there is an hour of browsing before checkouts open dedicated to NHS workers.

Tesco: Most stores open from 6am including 24-hour shops

ASDA: Most stores open from 6am or 7am - all 24-hour shops open at 6am

Morrisons: Most stores open from 7am

Sainsburys: Stores open from 7am

Coop: Most stores open from 6am or 7am

Iceland: Stores open from 8am

Lidl: Stores open from 8am

Aldi: Stores open from 8am

Waitrose: Store opening times vary from 7am to 8am

M&S: Store opening times vary between 6am and 9am

What are the supermarket rules for shopping?

Staff at supermarkets will be ensuring you stick to the new strict social-distancing rules that have applied since Monday evening.

At M&S you may be met by a greeter, while at Waitrose they are called marshals. Asda will also station more staff at its shop doors to "greet" customers and ensure only a limited number of shoppers enter stores at any one time.

They also check people are queuing responsibly and that shoppers wait patiently and stand two metres away from each other.

At Sainsbury's, there's tape marking out the correct two-metre distance to maintain between customers in a queue.

Customers are also discouraged from stockpiling products and can only buy one or two units of the same products.