Supermarket Covid rules explained as Tesco introduces buying limit on some products

23 December 2020, 09:43 | Updated: 23 December 2020, 11:24

Tesco has put a buying cap on several products
Tesco has put a buying cap on several products. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Tesco has introduced buying limits on some products amid fears over stock as supermarkets reveal new rules during the already busy festive period.

It comes amid concerns the blockage of freight between the UK and France will impact supply of goods.

Retailers have told shoppers there is no need to panic buy, with plenty of produce in stock to cover Christmas, however there is concern some produce could soon be impacted by the disruption.

Lorries will be able to start moving across the UK-France border from Wednesday morning as a mass testing programme for HGV drivers gets under way.

READ MORE: Lorry drivers clash with police in Dover as French border reopens

READ MORE: Housing Secretary tells LBC Kent lorry jam will be cleared 'in a couple of days'

However it is expected to be some time to relieve congestion in ports, and hauliers are still being urged not to travel to Dover until further notice.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said on Tuesday: "The real issue we face is what happens in the next day or so.

"If we do not see the empty trucks, which have already delivered to warehouses and stores, getting back over the channel, they will not be able to pick up the next consignment of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad vegetables.” 


The supermarket chain has introduced buying limits on items including toilet roll, soap, handwash, eggs and rice.

Customers are limited to one item per person of toilet roll, and three of soap, handwash, eggs and rice.

Tesco CEO Jason Tarry said in a letter to customers he wanted “to help all customers have access to these products”.

He said stock levels were “good” and people should "shop as you normally would".

The retailer previously put a three-item limit on essential items including flour, dried pasta and anti-bacterial wipes, which remains in place.

Tesco has said the lorry crisis could impact the supply of fresh produce, including lettuce and citrus fruit.

A spokesperson said earlier this week: "We have plenty of food for Christmas available in stores and would encourage all customers to shop as normal.

"We've been building our stockholding of key products ahead of the Christmas peak and are working closely with our hauliers and suppliers to continue the supply of goods into our stores.

"If the current disruption continues then there may be reduced supply on a few fresh items, such as lettuce, cauliflower and citrus fruit later this week.”


There are currently no limits in place however, like Tesco, the supermarket chain has said the supply of some fresh produce could be affected.

A spokesperson said: "All products for the Great British Christmas lunch are already in the country and we have plenty of these.

"We are also sourcing everything we can from the UK and looking into alternative transport for product sourced from Europe.

"If nothing changes, we will start to see gaps over the coming days on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit - all of which are imported from the continent at this time of year.”

The supermarket chain has also encouraged people to shop alone during the busy Christmas period.

It posted on social media: "Our stores will be really busy coming up to Christmas.

"To help us maintain social distancing for customers and colleagues and reduce queues, please shop alone wherever possible."

Morrison's, Asda, Aldi, Lidl

Morrison’s has previously introduced limits on products including toilet roll and disinfectant “to ensure that they are available for everyone".

At Asda, Aldi and Lidl, there are currently no limits on items in place.

All supermarkets have introduced measures to prevent overcrowding during the busy festive season, including one-in one-out and traffic light systems, the introduction of virtual queues and encouraging people to shop alone and get food delivered.

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