Supermarkets to let only 10 people in at a time to tackle coronavirus threat  

Different supermarkets putting different rules in place to enforce social distancing measures

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Small Tesco Express stores will only allow 10 people in at once
Small Tesco Express stores will only allow 10 people in at once Credit: PA

Supermarkets will be limiting the amount of people allowed in their shops to as few as 10, new guidelines showed on Thursday.

Blanket guidance from Public Health England for supermarkets on social distancing measures will be provided shortly.

Tesco has released detailed information for all its store managers, with 10 people allowed at a time in the chain's smaller shops, and 300 in its superstores.

A Waitrose source told The Telegraph that the company was testing capacity limits, with 25 people allowed in smaller stores and 75 in big supermarkets.

Security guards are being drafted in to Britain's food retailers, to enforce social distancing during the coronavirus epidemic and ensure a one in, one out policy in shops which are at capacity.

Some shops are still leaving the amount of people in store up to the discretion of managers, with Sainsbury's asking its workers to ensure everyone in store can stay two metres away from each other.

A spokesman said: "Wednesday 25 March, we are limiting the number of people in our stores and at our ATMs at any one time. This includes putting queuing systems in place.

"We ask customers to keep at a safe distance of two metres apart. From Thursday 26 March, we are reducing the number of checkouts in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations."

Sainsbury's is also regularly sanitising customer areas, introducing safety screens at manned checkouts and asking customers to pay by card at manned tills and cash at self check outs.

Morrisons and Marks and Spencer are already enforcing strict one in, one out policies with security guards ensuring people stand apart as they queue outside stores.

Marks and Spencer is also cleaning touch screens on self checkouts hourly, as well as baskets and trollies. It is asking customers not to scan their Sparks cards but to use the link when they get home to apply points, and not to use cash.

Lidl has implemented a crowd control system in order to try to manage social distancing within stores.

A spokesperson explained: "One of the measures we are introducing as part of this is positioning security guards or designated team members at store entrances to monitor the volume of people entering at one time.

"We have also rolled out a raft of clear communication materials in all of our stores, reminding customers of the importance of maintaining a two-metre distance from each other when shopping.

"We are also in the process of implementing checkout protection screens across all of our stores, which will be in place this week, to provide extra safeguards for both colleagues and customers. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work closely with government on this topic and will welcome the uniform guidance from Public Health England on the correct measures to implement."