Police are drafted in to guard shops to stop panic buying

Police are drafted in to guard shops to stop panic buying and enforce social distancing as huge queues formed at supermarkets

  • Shocking photos show shoppers packing into supermarkets today, ignoring the PM’s social distancing rules
  • Jeff Howes, 58, has revealed how his mother Jean, 87, died from coronavirus caught while shopping at Asda
  • There are fears that supermarkets could become superspreaders of the coronavirus as people pile in together
  • To combat this, supermarkets have introduced a range of new measures to enforce social distancing policy
  • Waitrose introducing ‘two-metre marshalls’ to manage queues outside and has ordered visors for workers
  • Asda is closing a number of self-serve checkouts to keep customers apart and introducing directional barriers
  • Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Sainsbury’s have also brought in protective screens to shield staff members 
  •  Police were drafted in to guard shops yesterday as queues again formed at various stores around the country
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Police were drafted in to guard shops yesterday as queues again formed at stores around the country. 

The measures were thought to be aimed at countering panic buying and making sure shoppers kept the right distance from each other. 

Officers kept watch outside Lidl and Sainsbury’s stores at a shopping centre in Stratford, east London. 

They were also present at a Tesco in nearby Mile End as only one entrance was open to control who entered the store. 

The move came as supermarkets began to recruit pub bouncers and limit the number of shoppers allowed in. The measures are among a raft of initiatives they hope will put an end to ugly battles in the aisles. 

Panic buyers have been pushing and shoving as they battle to fill trolleys with items such as hand sanitiser, toilet roll and pasta. Tesco has recruited bouncers who lost their jobs as a result of the pubs shutdown. 

The supermarket giant yesterday joined other outlets in announcing measures to protect shoppers and staff, while maintaining access to groceries. 

Officers kept watch outside Lidl and Sainsbury’s stores at a shopping centre in Stratford, east London

Shoppers at Sainsbury’s superstore wearing face masks and gloves, at the store in Greenwich , south-east London on Wednesday

The measures include limits on the number of shoppers, marshals on the doors to police queues and floor markings in stores to aid social distancing at checkouts. 

Shoppers were pictured squeezing together at supermarkets up and down the country on Wednesday morning, ignoring social distancing rules from the government which say people are supposed to stay 6ft apart while stocking up on essentials and fanning fears that they could pass on the virus through touching and contaminating food. 

And Jeff Howes, 58, from Coventry, has now revealed that his mother caught the virus and died after shopping at her local Asda. 

Jean Howes, 87, only left her home for an hour a week to pick up groceries from Asda but while she was on one of her brief supermarket trips, the great-grandmother contracted the deadly bug and she died on Monday.

Her grieving son Jeff posted a poignant message on Facebook begging people to stay indoors in order to save lives.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Brits to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime. 

However, people are still allowed to leave their homes to shop for basic necessities, leading to supermarkets being flooded with customers and fears that they will become hotbeds of the virus.  

Several major chains are now introducing new measures to try and enforce social distancing and protect staff, including a large quantity of hand sanitizer, gloves for workers and protective screens.  

In other coronavirus developments in the UK: 

  • London and Madrid are facing worse coronavirus outbreaks than Lombardy in Italy with deaths doubling every two days
  • Parliament is set to go into recess tonight a week early after pushing through a series of emergency coronavirus laws – with no return date;
  • Sadiq Khan revealed it is inevitable he will have to cut Tube services even further because one in three staff are now off sick – despite mass overcrowding on the Underground;
  •  NHS medics working across the UK fighting the coronavirus pandemic threatened  to ‘quit the profession’ over a lack of personal protection;
  • Prisons could release some offenders to ease the pressure caused by coronavirus after jails in England and Wales were put on immediate lockdown last night;
  • The UK’s coronavirus death toll jumped to 422 in the biggest daily rise yet, while people still cram on the tubes and mingle in parks.

Shoppers in an East London Asda ignore social distancing rules as they stock up on essentials this morning

Despite having to stay 6ft apart, the shoppers crowded close together as they waited to get into the supermarket in Mile End


Great grandmother Jean Howes, 87, who only went out once a week to do her shopping at Asda, has died after contracting coronavirus, according to a social media post by her son Jeff

A full Asda, despite the social distancing measures, with customers crammed in and stocking up on essentials amid the outbreak

People queuing at Tesco on Bow Road by the Mile End flyover in London this morning, failing to heed social distancing rules

Early morning shoppers queue outside waiting for the Morrisons supermarket to open in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, this morning

Heartbroken Jeff said: ‘It is just madness that people are still going out in groups or having barbecues and carrying on with normal life.

‘We were probably the same as everybody else thinking, this is a horrible thing but it won’t affect us.

‘If you are thinking like that, it can happen to you and when it does, it hits hard. I think there needs to be more of a clampdown and do what other countries have done them.

‘I don’t know how they would police it. It’s difficult but it just needs to be stricter.’

The lorry driver and father-of-two started noticing his mum was suffering from cold-like symptoms last weekend.

He said: ‘She would go out literally once a week for about an hour. She knew she was in the higher risk category so she was careful.

‘I’d take her shopping just to the local Asda. She was independent but she stayed indoors as much as she could.

‘I would drop her there, I wouldn’t go around with her, she would do her shopping and I would do my shopping and meet her at the tills to take her home again.

‘Mum was a good age, but she still had her independence until the end. The last time I took her shopping was a week last Sunday.

‘She had a little bit of a cold. I said, ‘do you want me to do your shopping for you?’ But she wanted to go herself.

‘Unfortunately, as the week went on, the symptoms got worse. It progressed quite slowly to start with, more or less just a cold. I was checking up on her obviously.

‘She didn’t seem to have the typical issues associated with the virus. She wasn’t coughing, she thought her temperature was okay.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Brits to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus

Police officers monitor the queues outside Tesco in Mile End, London this morning, as people cram together and ignore social distancing

Shoppers at the Asda Greenhithe store queue up in the car park – with most appearing to be adhering to social distancing guidelines

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered Brits to stay at home to halt the spread of the virus, imposing curbs on everyday life

‘It got a little bit worse during the week. You expect a cold to start off slow and then get a little bit worse but it didn’t seem to be getting better.

‘It wasn’t until last Friday that things took a turn for the worst and Jean’s symptoms escalated so much that she couldn’t get out of bed.

‘I went round at about 1.30 pm and all the curtains were shut. Obviously, that was a worrying sign. I could see that she was not very well.

‘I called an ambulance, but even then, as far as I can see, she still wasn’t showing the symptoms of the virus.

‘She got that she started coughing a bit more, which rang alarm bells with me.

‘Once they arrived they found she had a raging temperature, but even the crew thought it may have been a chest infection which would have given a high temperature anyway.

‘Unfortunately, it turned out that she did have the virus. They took her into Coventry University Hospital.

‘She then very quickly went downhill and died on Monday afternoon.’

Strict quarantine guidelines meant Jeff was not able to comfort his mother in hospital, often having to phone the ward she was on for regular updates.

He said: ‘We were told we couldn’t go and see her which is obviously the worst thing when a loved one is taken into hospital, that you can’t go with them.

‘I was just pacing up and down all day, wondering what’s going on.

‘You don’t want to keep phoning them because, especially at certain times, as it’s so busy there at the moment.

‘At the end we were allowed to see her if we wore full protective suits which we did. It was heartbreaking.

‘I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have gone through and that’s why I’m begging people to stay at home and obey the rules on social distancing.’

Just hours after Jeff posted a poignant picture of his late mum on Facebook along with a warning to people to respect the rules it went viral.

So far more than 40,000 people have liked and shared his story from around the world.

He said: ‘I can’t believe how mad it’s gone, it is just crazy. It’s all over the world. I just hope the message gets through before more people die like my mum did.

‘Hopefully, even if it saves one person, then that little bit of effort was worth it.

‘My mum was a kind, loving, generous lady that thought the world of her family. She had a mischievous sense of humour and was stubbornly independent. She will be sorely missed.’

People, including babies, are tightly packed together at this east London Asda as they stock up on groceries

Supermarkets have now introduced a range of measures to try and enforce social distancing.  

Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Sainsbury’s have brought in protective screens for staff, and Waitrose – which is introducing ‘two-metre marshalls’ who will manage queues outside shops – has ordered screens and visors for its workers.

Waitrose calls its policies ‘a set of strong, new measures’ to help its customers shop safely.

The company said the number of customers allowed in at any one time will be limited so that social distancing can be observed, and a ‘one in, one out’ policy will be operated when it is judged that the shop is at capacity.

Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind people to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

Waitrose will also dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them, while NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

There will also be ‘safe distance’ floor signage, protective screens at checkouts, and additional security.

Morrisons, which has already put up perspex screens, is introducing signage in stores to support social distancing, including floor stickers, posters and banners which will ask customers to keep one trolley distance apart, as well as giving guidance on where to wait and where to queue.

People queuing at Tesco on Bow Road by the Mile End flyover in London this morning, ignoring social distancing rules

People, young and old, cram into the Asda in east London to buy groceries, while flouting social distancing rules

Taped-off areas for customers to distance themselves from each other are seen at the checkout area of a local Tesco store in London

The taped off areas are one of several safety measures introduced by supermarkets to protect staff and workers amid the coronavirus pandemic

Long queues with people closely stood together were spotted in the London Asda this morning

It comes as Asda said it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance

Asda has also announced similar measures, saying it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance, and will install perspex screens at its checkouts. 

Hand sanitiser will be available for customers to use when entering and departing.

A number of self-service machine will also be shut in order to enforce the two-metre rule, a spokesperson told MailOnline.   

Sainsbury’s said it is ‘working through the detail’ but expects to restrict the number of people allowed in stores at any one time, and will also be introducing barriers outside to ensure people queue at a safe distance when waiting to get in.

The supermarket said it will also have reminders to keep two metres apart displayed throughout stores, screens at manned checkouts, and will close every other payment point to help keep people apart.

On Tuesday afternoon, Marks & Spencer said its 31 outlet stores selling only clothing and homeware will be temporarily closed.

M&S said when customers arrive at its food stores, they will see a ‘greeter’ who will ensure the number of customers in the store at any one time is managed.

Workers redeployed from the clothing and home departments will help support limiting customer numbers entering the store.

M&S said trolleys, baskets, screens and all touch points will be cleaned every hour and deep cleaned every night.

The stores will have floor markings in queuing areas to remind customers about social distancing and ‘sneeze guards’ will be in place.

Customers will be asked not to scan their Sparks card and cash payments are discouraged. 

Nationwide Building Society has reduced its branch opening hours in response to the crisis, with most branches now opening from 10am until 2pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am until 12pm on Saturday.

Nationwide said there will be a two-metre distance rule between staff and customers at all times, while numbers of people in branches will be restricted to ensure rules around space can be controlled as much as possible.

Where possible, customers are being asked to use online or mobile banking services, particularly those at higher risk.

Santander said its branches will remain open where possible, but a number of its more vulnerable workers are currently being advised to stay at home while others are self-isolating.

Due to this, the bank has been unable to open a number of its branches.

Meanwhile, Unison said shopping centres, pubs, gyms and other businesses are being urged to provide free parking to NHS and care staff.

The union, which represents NHS, school, police, care and other essential key public service workers, is calling on local businesses closed because of the lockdown to help key workers drive to work and avoid public transport.

Sadiq Khan defies instruction from Boris Johnson to increase London’s dangerously cramped Tubes and is now threatening to cut services EVEN MORE ‘because a THIRD of TfL staff are off sick’ 

Sadiq Khan sparked more fury today and defied Boris Johnson as he warned Tube services will be cut back even further because one in three staff are now off sick – up from one in five overnight – despite dangerous conditions on trains for terrified coronavirus key workers.

The Prime Minister has told the Mayor of London to add more trains but London’s Tube network is packed again with Mr Khan accused of ‘risking lives’ after slashing number of trains at a time of national emergency.

Today one in three of TfL staff are ill or in self-isolation – including large numbers of drivers and customer-facing workers – with the sickness figures appearing to be disproportionately higher than among frontline workers in the NHS, police and fire services. Some have blamed the strength of the Tube unions and their threat to pull away members for the high level of staff absence.

MailOnline can reveal that during rush hour today some London Underground lines are currently only running one train every twenty minutes, when it should be one every three to  five minutes, causing more crammed conditions in ‘death trap’ carriages and on heaving platforms. 

As deaths in the capital doubled, the Mayor of London is facing mounting fury and pressure to restore services to normal levels with some NHS workers claiming they are now more worried about travelling to work than treating coronavirus patients in hospital.

London Underground tube passengers try to squeeze onto a carriage on the Central Line at White City this morning with services set to become even less frequent, according to underfire Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

But in a statement Mayor Khan this morning revealed more train services will go and said: ‘Nearly a third of TfL’s staff are now off sick or self-isolating – including train drivers and crucial control centre staff. Many of them have years of safety-critical training in order to run specific lines – so it is simply not possible to replace them with others. TfL will do everything possible to continue safely running a basic service for key workers, including our amazing NHS staff, but if the number of TfL staff off sick or self-isolating continues to rise – as we sadly expect it will – we will have no choice but to reduce services further.’.

There were grim scenes on the Tube again today where commuters with no choice but to go to work were faced to stand nose-to-nose with strangers on teeming trains.

Key worker Tony Drew tweeted: ‘No-one is listening to you and don’t need to reduce the service as much as you have. You need to get more trains on and stop putting the lives of key workers like me at risk’.

Kate Mat wrote: ‘I have zero respect for Sadiq & TFL! Are they really blind or just heartless??! They are putting key workers life in danger!!!! Nurses, doctors and other key workers can’t practice social distancing on cramped tubes!’  

A senior nurse named Danny posted on Twitter: ‘Another busy tube. Can we not stagger people’s start times so we aren’t all squashed on the same tube! This is unsafe and not fair!’, and Barry Trimble, whose work involves ensuring cancer patients receive chemotherapy, posted: ‘The Tube is packed, with social distancing impossible. We need more people to stay at home and more trains running in morning and evening peak.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night there is ‘no good reason’ Tube services have been slashed and Boris Johnson also questioned why up to three quarters of services had been axed in a call with Mr Khan yesterday.

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