Posted: 26.03.20 at 14:15 by Joseph Bulmer
Starting today, Sainsbury's in Ottery St Mary has begun limiting the number of people allowed in stores and at ATMs at any one time.
The supermarket is also urging customers to shop for their elderly, disabled and vulnerable relatives in a bid to ease the pressure on delivery services.
The supermarket's CEO Mike Coupe has written to all customers today (Thurs) to make the request as the company tries 'to manage a very difficult situation'.
He says: "Many of you have written to me to tell me you are elderly or vulnerable and are struggling to book online delivery slots.
"We are doing our absolute best to offer online delivery slots to elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.
"These customers have priority over all slots. Our customer Careline has been inundated with requests from elderly and vulnerable customers - we have had one year's worth of contacts in two weeks.
"We really are doing our best to manage a very difficult situation. Demand for online grocery delivery is higher now than it has ever been.
"We are working hard to increase our online capacity and we are adding more slots in every day.
"But it is not possible for us to create enough slots to meet the current level of demand. We are seeing communities come together to work on this issue.
"We know that many people who are able to come into a store to shop are also shopping for others who can't access food online or get to a shop. We want to encourage and support this.
"If everyone who shops in store also shops for a person who is less able, it will go a long way towards getting food to everyone who needs it."
Mr Coupe explains: "We are putting queuing systems in place outside stores and will ask everyone to please queue at a safe distance of two metres apart.
"Since we put limits on the number of items people could buy, food and other essential items are on shelves for longer each day so please arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning.
"We will be reminding people in stores to keep a safe distance from other customers and from our colleagues."
The number of open checkouts in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations will also be reduced to help staff and customers keep a safe distance from each other.
Safety screen at manned checkouts are also being introduced and staff will be regularly sanitising all customer areas including chip and pin machines, baskets and trolleys.
Customers are being asked to pay by card at tills if they can and to use self-scan tills for cash payments.
Mr Coupe also suggests using Sainsbury's SmartShop app.
"This means you can scan your own shopping as you go round the store, put food and other essential items straight into your own bags and pay for your groceries at a special till before leaving.
"Which means less interaction with other customers and colleagues and less time queuing to pay," he adds.