Can I go shopping?
Yes, you can – however do you fall into one the groups identified below?
Due to being at increased risk of being severely affected by coronavirus – if you’re aged 70 or older or under 70 with an underlying health condition – you should ask friends, family and neighbours to support you with essential supplies such as food and medicine.
If this isn’t possible, you can go out for essentials but should make this as infrequent as possible. You should also make sure to practise social distancing (remaining 2 metres or 2 steps away from others) and wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) when you get back home.
However, if you’re self-isolating because you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms or you have been identified on medical grounds as ‘extremely vulnerable’, then you shouldn’t be leaving the house.
NHS England have written to all those who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ and the letter you receive will include information on how you can get support for essential supplies. If you haven’t received a letter then get in touch with your GP or clinician and let them know.
Where can I go to get supplies?
The Government has closed a number of shops considered ‘non-essential’ to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The following remain open so you can still get what you need:
- Supermarkets and other food shops
- Pharmacies including non-dispensing chemists
- Newsagents and off-licences
- Post offices
- Health shops
- Pet shops
- Some food delivery and takeaways are open from restaurants and cafes
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Petrol stations
- Bicycle shops
- Car rentals
- Home and hardware shops
- Non-essential shopping deliveries for example clothes and toys
Those retail and public premises which can remain open under the new guidelines must:
• Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants
• Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded
• Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open
Distancing measures that premises are required to put in place will mean that fewer people can be in a shop at any one time, and it is expected there will be queues outside many food shops.
What are supermarkets doing to support me?
Several large supermarket chains have introduced measures to support get the supplies they need, such as protected shopping hours and priority delivery slots for specific groups, i.e. NHS workers, elderly or the vulnerable.
They’re also introducing measures to reduce people stockpiling items such as toilet paper and pasta, restricting the purchase of certain products in high demand.
Check with your local supermarket online to see what they’re doing;
Marks and Spencer www.marksandspencer.com/c/help/covid-19
Here are some top tips to help get the essentials you need:
- Make a list of the things you need day-to-day, including food, household essentials and medication.
- There is no need to stockpile. Shops and pharmacies will keep refreshing their supplies and many have introduced measures to reduce stockpiling.
- It may take longer than usual to receive online deliveries to your home, so plan ahead, particularly if you usually have prescriptions delivered. If you have any concerns about your medication, talk to your pharmacist.
- If someone claims to be from a recognised organisation, ask to see proof or check with the organisation itself.
- If someone you don’t know offers you help with your shopping don’t feel pressured to accept help. If you do accept help never hand-over money, bank details or cards to someone you don’t know offering to help you.
- If someone offers to do your shopping, ask for a receipt so that you can pay them on their return to cover the costs of the items.
Online retail is open and postal and delivery services run as normal.
Access to supermarkets online for delivery slots can be very difficult unless you are in a priority group and have been allocated access to priority slots, people are therefore generally recommended to go to the supermarket in person. If you are lucky and get a delivery slot you may find it is a long wait before the delivery can occur, so it is important to try and plan as much in advance as possible. Some supermarkets such as Morrisons are offering special food parcels at fixed prices containing essential items Other online retailers are generally open for business as usual.
What if I can’t do my shopping?
If you’re not able to go out for essential supplies because you’re self-isolating or shielding and can’t get support from others, you can use the following options for support:
The Kent Together 24-Hour Helpline
The Kent Together 24-hour helpline has been set up to support vulnerable people in Kent who need urgent help, supplies. It provides a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the county who is vulnerable and has an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support networks. It is also the place to report any concerns about the welfare of someone else.
You can contact the Kent Together helpline at www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether or by calling 03000 41 92 92. It is a 24-hour service.
Support in the Gravesham Area
Gravesham Borough Council is working with North West Kent Volunteer Centre and other community partners to get vital supplies and medicines to those who need them most in our community. If you, or anyone you know is vulnerable or self-isolating and without an immediate support network, you can ask for help.
Support in the Swanley Area
Swanley Town Council is co-ordinating local volunteers in the town to make sure the most vulnerable residents are looked after. If you are a local resident and you or a family member, friend or neighbour need supplies and cannot get out, call 01322 665855.
For further information go to: https://www.swanleytowncouncil.gov.uk/
Support in the Dartford Area
There is help available with food emergencies. If you think that you, or someone you know, needs help, call DBC on 01322 343434.
Food packages are now dispatched regularly to Dartford’s most vulnerable folk from a distribution hub in the town centre.
Food emergency is defined as anyone who is anxious that they may not have enough food or supplies for themselves or those in their household and who have NO OTHER means of getting what they need. That last bit is important. Some wonderful work is being done by friends, neighbours, food banks and businesses all over Dartford to support people within their own community.
Support in the Medway area
Medway council is working with the University of Greenwich to help those who are self-isolating get their regular prescriptions. Together, they are offering to collect and deliver medicines and prescriptions to Medway residents who need help.
Help for the most vulnerable; they have identified and contacted Medway’s most vulnerable residents who may need this service.
If you’re in need of urgent help and: they have not contacted you
you do not have anyone, such as family, friends or neighbours to help you
If you, or someone you know, are facing a food emergency then please ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed or reluctant. Nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing.