The UK government and retail food businesses have joined forces to support clinically vulnerable people, amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The government has shared information with supermarkets to help them identify at risk people for online delivery slots and ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible.
Government food boxes are already being delivered to those who have no other means of accessing food and have been advised to stay at home.
Additional steps the UK government have taken include working in partnership with local resilience and emergency partners, the groceries industry and local government on a new Local Support System to ensure vulnerable people receive basic groceries.
Driver hours are being extended to help deliver more goods to stores across the UK and help supermarket delivery drivers meet the increased demand for home deliveries.
Competition laws have also been relaxed so retailers can work together to keep shops open and stocked. Retailers will be able to share data on stock levels, pool staff to meet demand, and share distribution depots and delivery vans.
Dr David Poots, senior occupational health physician at BHSF, has welcomed the steps and is pleased action is being taken.
“The NHS has identified up to 1.5 million people in England as being clinically vulnerable which is a huge amount of citizens. With these people being asked to self-isolate, hearing about government food boxes being delivered to those at risk is a real positive.
“We are in unprecedented times and it is all about pulling together. It is pleasing to see the government has shared information with supermarkets to ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible to people clinically vulnerable.
“Frontline staff working in supermarkets and at distribution stores are also playing their part in helping to feed the nation. They are doing a brilliant job, from ensuring shelves are stocked and delivering food to households. It is only right they get recognised too.”
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and Tesco have used customer data to identify elderly and vulnerable customers for priority slots and are increasing home delivery and click and collect capacity.
Asda and Marks and Spencer have introduced cashless volunteer shopping voucher schemes for those self-isolating or in vulnerable groups. M&S have also launched new online Food Boxes to help customers get products they need and support those who aren’t able to easily visit stores.
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Tesco, M&S, Iceland and Asda are all reserving an hour in stores for elderly and vulnerable shoppers.
Frontline staff working at major supermarkets across the UK are also set to receive an increase in earnings for their hard work during the coronavirus outbreak.
Asda has promised an extra week’s pay in June. Marks and Spencer’s staff working across stores and supply chain will receive an additional 15% bonus.
Ocado, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have all pledged to give a 10% bonus to its staff working in stores and at distribution centres.
Roxanne Edgington, corporate finance assistant at BHSF, has praised supermarkets for taking the step to reward their staff.
“It’s refreshing to see supermarkets have announced staff will be rewarded with bonuses. Supermarkets are playing an invaluable role and without them, I don’t know where we would be especially in this situation.”
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