What hours are supermarkets open during coronavirus and is there rationing?

19 March 2020, 16:51 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Many supermarket shelves have been empty
Many supermarket shelves have been empty. Picture: PA

Panic buying has hit a number of stores across the country with normally full aisles empty and customers queuing hours become shops open.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the nation and a worried public start to panic buy a number of supermarkets have introduced special measures to ensure those most in need in society are able to function.

Are supermarkets open?

Yes, at the moment supermarkets are remaining open and some politicians are saying they are an essential public service, looking at countries which have gone into lockdown supermarkets have remained open.

Boris Johnson's Government has called on people to limit the amount of time they spend in the company of other people, including when shopping.

Is there rationing in supermarkets?

Many supermarkets have introduced limits on the number of items people can buy with several limiting customers to just three of each item.

It comes as people across the globe stock up on essentials to prepare for the possibility of self-isolation amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Shoppers all over the UK have reported seeing empty shelves in their local supermarkets as panic buyers prepare for the possible impact of coronavirus.

Videos and photos posted to social media show shelves cleared of products, including hand sanitisers, pasta and toilet rolls as the outbreak worsens.

Tesco has had to bring in similar purchasing restrictions to curb panic buying, particularly on anti-bacterial wipes, dried past and toilet roll.

It was forced to take its mobile app offline temporarily due to high demand on Tuesday, and announced it would be reducing the hours of all of its 24-hour stores to 6am to 10pm.

A spokeswoman said: "It gives our colleagues the time overnight to restock the store, replenish the shelves and support our online grocery service at a time when demand is high."

Elsewhere, rival Morrisons announced on Tuesday it is creating 3,500 jobs to meet surging demand for its home delivery service caused by the pandemic.

The chain said it would be recruiting 2,500 pickers and drivers while hiring about 1,000 people to work in distribution centres.

It is also planning a new call centre for those without access to online shopping, plus the launch of a new range of simple-to-order food parcels from next Monday.

What can pensioners and the vulnerable do?

The huge surge in demand for delivery services has seen supermarkets introduce measures to help the elderly and vulnerable during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

High Street giant Sainsbury's has joined other brands in announcing the first hour of trading each day will be reserved for those the most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

All its stores will only open to these two groups for the first hour of trading today, chief executive Mike Coupe said, but will open for an hour longer so other shoppers do not miss out.

Iceland outlets across the country have also introduced reserved time slots to give the vulnerable and the elderly a chance to shop in-store.

Sainsbury's has now said customers over 70 and those with a disability will also have priority access to online delivery slots from Monday and the chain is also expanding its "click and collect" service.

What are the supermarket opening times?

The mad dash for essential items will be on as soon as the doors open to stores today.

Shoppers have been stockpiling goods for when the coronavirus spread worsens in the UK, to avoid the need to go down to their local and risk contracting the killer bug.

Yet, some stores are now even rationing customers to avoid leaving some unhappy and empty-handed - the first time this has been done since World War II.

Here are what time supermarkets normally open

Tesco: Most stores open from 6am including 24-hour shops - find your local here

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 - find your local here

Iceland: Stores open from 8am

Lidl: Stores open from 8am

Aldi: Stores open from 8am

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

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