Following the announcement on Friday 13th by Boris Johnson, everyone who is over 70 years of age or who are vulnerable because of their health must self isolate. This means not going out at all for some but for many people it means only leaving their houses to buy food, supplies and attend appointments only if absolutely necessary.
The stockpiling of food and essential supplies that followed this news, which means a massive change to the lifestyles of many millions of people in this country, added to the fear and uncertainty that was already felt by people who had be watching events around the globe. Almost all countries governments are installing new measures to control the outbreak of Coronavirus to the best of their abilities.
However, this week although tough new steps have been introduced by Westminster including cancelling most events and closing schools from the end of this week for the rest of the term, most citizens agree and support that these drastic decisions are the only way to stop the spread of the disease and protect the elderly and vulnerable in our society. For those people that have health conditions or whose immune systems are much older it could mean that Coronavirus is life threatening.
Everyone has been told to limit travel and social contact and many businesses have shut for the time being creating uncertainty and job losses in aviation, leisure and dining, beauty services and other services like trades and estate agents who go to peoples home to carry out their work.
Marks and Spencer’s CEO Steve Rowe sent an email to all the customers of this classic store to explain how they will be reallocating staff from fashion and homeware to focus on assisting food and drink departments during this busy time. They are providing a contact free delivery service that laves purchases at the door. M&S are offering currency refunds if customers are no longer able to travel due to Covid-19.
Marks and Spencer have published advice on freezing food such as milk, cheese, bread, pasta, fruit and vegetables to make it last longer. They also recommend batch cooking. (1) It is also worth knowing that a full freezer is more efficient and cost effective to run.
Jim McDonald CEO at Costa Coffee wrote to all customers explaining that the company is staying open including toilet facilities but only accepting card payments and operating as take away venues using takeaway cups. (2)
David Lewis CEO at Tesco states today that “we are introducing a storewide restriction of only 3 items per customer on every product line and removing multi-buy promotions.”
This will help those less physically able by ensuring they have a chance to stock up on groceries. They have also dedicated time between 9 and 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to dedicate the whole store specifically to older people and those who are vulnerable or have special needs. This will apply to all Tesco shops nationwide. There were 300m queues outside the Tesco store in Chichester first thing this morning when it opened and a store assistant said that “35 people where trying to buy yeast at the same time.” (3)
Tesco’s chief Mr Lewis has personally requested that people who can shop in store do so. This enables people who are self isolating to use on-line and ‘click and collect’ services whose resources are stretched at present.
Boots Chief Pharmacist Marc Donovan wrote to all their customers yesterday to provide resources about the new virus to answer common questions that the public have and provide information on how to recognise coronavirus symptoms and how it can be spread. (4)
Online Food Hub Great British Chefs will be championing UK chefs and communicating which restaurants are evolving to into take-away and delivery companies during the crisis. They will be publishing inspiring ideas on cooking at home and limited store cupboard supplies recipes. (5)
Local estate agents such as Crossmeads in Chichester, West Sussex will be offering 360 degree virtual tours of properties for customers not wishing to view in person. (6)
Today Sainsbury’s have devoted the first hour of opening in every store across the country to welcoming senior citizens and those who are vulnerable. (7)
Individual communities are doing what they can to help reach those in their 80’s and 90’s who may live in a rural location. Any retired folk who don’t have a car are also disadvantaged at the moment and neighbours all around the UK are checking on their neighbours (by standing a safe distance from the door) and asking them if they need any supplies delivered by car.
Facebook pages have been set up to help unite those in need who are self isolating, with those mobile men and women who are able to help keep their cupboards stocked and other practical solutions.
Charities and food banks who already support those on low incomes with food and supplies will continue to operate. They encouraged people to continue to donate items when they did their shopping if they can.
Elizabeth Harley at the Bridport Community Fridge explained “We get a lot of our donations from Waitrose and we are worried that because the shops are being cleared there will be less waste.”(8)
Anyone who attempted food shopping today has been met with empty shelves and Waitrose is no exception. Sir Charlie Mayfield and the executive team at Waitrose have advised that partners from John Lewis will be allocated to support the effort at Waitrose to support the flow on stock into its stores. At the moment their website is down due to the demand like many others have been like health food shops Holland and Barrett for example. (9)
We all need to do our bit to help our neighbours in whatever way we can who may be self isolating and who are less able to cope with the challenges presented by the national effort to stop the Coronavirus gaining any further momentum. If we all work together much positivity and kindness will be able to be celebrated once the worry of virus affecting the less strong members of our society, has been irradicated.
(1) Marks and Spencer, 18 March 2020, Marks and Spencer Website
(2) Costa Coffee, 18 March 2020 Costa Coffee Website
(3) Tesco, 18 March 2020 Tesco Website
(4) Boots, 18 March 2020 Boots Website
(5) Great British Chefs online food magazine, 18 March 2020 Great British Chefs Website
(6) Crossmeads estate agency, 18 March 2020 Crossmeads Website
(7) Sainsburys, 18 March 2020 Sainsburys Website
(8) ‘Coronavirus: How to help the rural elderly?’ Jennifer Meihans, BBC News, 18 March 2020 BBC Article helping elderly
(9) Waitrose, 18 March 2020 Waitrose Website