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Grocery shopping changes in June as lockdown eases

supermarket shopping in self-distancing world

Today, 23 June 2020, the guidance for shopping for food and essential supplies in England changed to reflect the continuing opening up of lockdown.

Although this is UK government advice, in reality the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments have slightly different strategies. Confusing? Yes, it is.

Some of our relatives may be going food shopping in person for the first time in months, and they will find a very different landscape, with changing social distancing rules in force. The first few times out may be difficult and perplexing, and if someone can provide some shopping company, it will probably be much appreciated.

Here’s a summary of the latest advice as it may affect your older family as well as yourselves. The full document can be found on the UK government website.

The clinically vulnerable

Those considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will already be shielding by self-isolating. This advice is going to change from the 6 July, when these members of the community will see some changes to what they are asked to do.

The government food boxes are coming to an end for this group in the last week of July.

But anyone on a supermarket priority list for food delivery slots will stay on those lists after that time. However, Tesco has already announced that it is re-introducing its priority pass scheme, which means that delivery subscription customers will get early access to delivery schedules. It’s possible that this will affect the availability of slots for the clinically vulnerable.

It’s still possible to register on GOV.UK until 17 July for:

  • A home delivery of a government food parcel (although those are ending 31 July)
  • Defra to pass details to the supermarkets to be added to their priority lists

Not everyone that’s extremely vulnerable needs or wants the government food parcel. If your family member doesn’t want to receive any more parcels from now on, they have a choice in how they can stop them:

  • tell their delivery driver when the box arrives, if they get a chance to speak to them
  • re-register on GOV.UK and answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do you have a way of getting essential supplies delivered at the moment?’

Those who can’t go shopping

Your parent may well not be classified as extremely vulnerable, but can’t go shopping because they are self-isolating or cannot get out of their home.

The government instruction now is to ask family, friends or neighbours to do their shopping for them. And if that’s not possible, to see whether there are community groups who could help get the essentials. It’s also worth enquiring at local shops – not just the major supermarkets – as to whether they do deliveries. Plenty were doing this during lockdown, but they may now have the resources once they’ve re-opened to more customers.

Many of the supermarkets have created e-vouchers or gift cards that your parent could purchase as way to pay for their groceries that other people are going to pick up. You can find out more about these on

  • the supermarket’s website
  • UK Finance (the collective voice for the banking and finance industry)

There’s yet another option if your family member meets the criteria, which is to get support from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme. Call 0808 196 3646 and ask for help with food, prescriptions and essential items.

Finally, for urgent help where your friend or relative has no other means of help, they could contact their local authority to find out what support services are available in their area.

Everyone else

Anyone that isn’t clinically extremely vulnerable, self-isolating or find it difficult to leave home, is now free to shop for food and other essentials in store.

It’s now requested that supermarket delivery slots are left for those in greatest need, and that others who can, should go shopping in person.

The stores have already been operating safe shopping procedures for several weeks. These are now changing as social distancing guidelines become more complex.

Check out our articles about life for older people in the coronavirus world

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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