The new supermarket rules – here’s what you need to know about the social distancing restrictions

Supermarkets are asking customers to stay 2m from each other and installing screens

Supermarkets have taped off areas in store and put up protective screens for staff after worrying pictures at the weekend showed shoppers crammed together in queues to buy food.

After the Prime Minister ordered a UK-wide lockdown, some of the only shops are open are those which sell food. In order to stop the spread of coronavirus and temper crowds, shops across the country have put queueing rules in place.

There are also discussions going ahead about pre-picking a “weekly shop” to reduce the number of people in the aisles as home delivery slots are still scarce. Other supermarkets are asking for the contactless spend limit to be raised to £45.

Here is what each supermarket is doing to increase social distancing.


The supermarket is allowing fewer people than usual in store. Those who are in shops will see tape marking out the correct distance to stand behind or in front of the next person in the queue.

Staff will also be given plastic screens at tills for protection.

They will will be closing every other payment point in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations.

The supermarket is also asking customers to use cards at tills and cash at self-service checkouts where they can.


People stand apart as they follow social distancing while they queue outside a Waitrose shop in Kensington, London


The upscale supermarket has introduced new “two-metre marshalls” in stores who will tell customers to stand at a greater distance from each other.

It is also limiting customer numbers, introducing ‘safe distance’ floor signage, installing protective screens at checkouts, putting in place additional security and encouraging contactless shopping.

Shop managers will use their judgment on customer numbers and when the shop is at capacity to manage social distancing will operate a one in, one out policy. 

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

There will also be fewer checkouts. In order to enable those working in the shop to maintain social distancing where two checkouts are back to back one will close.

Special protective visors are also being ordered and will be available to staff if they wish. 

New lift instructions stating that only one customer or family should occupy a lift at any one time.

A drive to encourage more customers to shop in a “cashless and contactless” way to prevent unnecessary contact.  Staff will guide customers where possible to use Waitrose Quick Check self-service technology and contactless card payments. 

Waitrose & Partners is also part of discussions to increase the contactless limit to £45 to help customers make more use of contactless payment.


The shop has put protective screens in place to protect staff from infected droplets.

The essential food box

It has also put together essential ‘food boxes’ in order to reduce the amount of contact people have with others. These cost £35 for a family and a vegetarian option can also be ordered. They contain meat, eggs, pasta, vegetables and other staples.


Tesco has put tape on the floor of its shops to demonstrate safe distances at which to stand and is limiting the number of people allowed in shops.


To allow staff to rest and stock to be replenished, all store daily opening hours will shorten slightly to close at 8pm every day, from this Friday until further notice. 

 Clear screens will be installed at all Aldi checkouts in the UK to protect colleagues and customers.  Aldi is also advising its colleagues and customers to observe Government advice on social distancing in stores.


Lidl will install checkout protection screens across all its stores in Great Britain. 

Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, commented: “The safety of our colleagues and customers continues to be a key priority for us, which is why all of our stores here in Great Britain will be fitted with protection screens at checkouts.

“We hope that this additional safeguard will help to provide extra reassurance for those both working and shopping in our stores.”

Last week, the supermarket announced that it was creating up to 2,500 new store jobs to provide necessary additional support to its workforce and customers.


The wholesaler has put cones in place to enforce socially-distant queuing and has limited the numbers of those allowed in store.