Blind woman refused access to Aldi with seeing-eye helper because of social distancing

22 May 2020, 05:39

Kathryn Lindgren with her guide dog
Kathryn Lindgren with her guide dog. Picture: LBC News

By Amelia Harper

A blind woman has said she was made to feel "vulnerable and inferior" after a supermarket security guard refused to let her in with her seeing-eye guide, due to social distancing rules.

Kathryn Lindgren was initially stopped at the doors of Aldi in Kettering after being told by the guard that she could not enter with her seeing guide who was there to help her shop.

Ms Lindgren told LBC News she needs a human assistant now because her guide dog cannot social distance within the coronavirus regulations.

She said they tried to explain to the security guard but even after explaining, he“didn’t seem to understand that I couldn’t do my shopping without a sighted guide”

“He seemed to think I should just stay at home and get someone else to do my shopping even though I am not shielding… it made me quite anxious”.

She said she was able to do her shopping when the guard relented and told her he would let them in “this time” but that next time “only one of you”.

Ms Lindgren says she now has to rely on someone else to go out, limiting her independence.

Kathryn Lindgren has said she would never shop at Aldi following the incident
Kathryn Lindgren has said she would never shop at Aldi following the incident. Picture: PA

She claimed the budget supermarket “Aldi just made me feel vulnerable and inferior” and vowed that in future she would shop somewhere else.

Nearly a month later, Aldi sent an apology letter and £30 worth of vouchers.

A spokesperson for Aldi said customers were still able to shop with other people if they needed assistance.

Ms Lindgren says she “will never shop at Aldi again”

Ms Lindgren added that other blind people have struggled to get into supermarkets, not just Aldi.

It’s come at the same time as new research from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) shows that three-quarters of blind and partially sighted people have struggled to access food during the lockdown.

1 in 5 people with sight loss say they have to ration food.

David Clarke, RNIB Director of Services said: “The unique challenges of social distancing for blind and partially sighted people have hit hard, with two-thirds reporting feeling less independent since lockdown.

“As lockdown eases but social distancing continues to be enforced, the visual nature of restrictions risks a disproportionate impact on blind and partially sighted people, restricting their ability to access services and transport.

The RNIB says “social distancing is near-impossible for many blind and partially sighted people which makes it difficult to go out and get food or other essentials”

Ms Lindgren added that blind people have to rely on other people social distancing because it’s not possible if she’s alone to keep 2m away from people herself.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “To help with social distancing, we are encouraging customers to reduce the number of family members they bring with them into our stores where possible.

“Where necessary, however, customers can shop with others and we have reminded our colleagues at our Peterborough store of this policy. We have spoken to the customer to apologise for any upset that may have been caused.”