Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

Tesco and Sainsbury’s shoppers fuming as ‘non-essential’ aisles blocked off

Shoppers in England are furious to find that entire supermarket aisles are being blocked off so that no one can buy "non-essential items".

Following guidance published by the UK Government when the second national lockdown began last week, shops that have "sufficiently distinct parts" were told they should cordon off the areas selling non-essential items.

Photos show Tesco and Sainsbury's aisles made inaccessible by barriers with the shelves themselves — still full of goods — covered with sheets and wrapping.

One Tesco even blocked off one of its upper floors with an enormous stack of Corona beer boxes, a cheeky nod to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However many customers say they're now unable to buy important basic items such as clothing and homewares.

This has led to much confusion as other goods such as alcohol and confectionery seems to still be available.

One shopper at the Tesco in Streatham, South London, said on Twitter : "Disappointed to see after the uproar of blocking off clothing, toys, homeware etc sections in one of your stores in Wales, you've now done this in your Streatham Extra store.

"I can buy booze, but, not a kettle or underwear."

Another Twitter user asked Tesco: "You have shut the clothing section and homewares department in a store near me, due to those items being non essential, but yet in very same store you have fireworks on sale. Could you please explain this???"

One woman said: "Why are your clothing areas shut this time round when they were open for the last lockdown?! I don’t get how kids clothes and shoes are non essential, especially winter coats now the days are getting colder!?"

In response, a Tesco spokesperson said: "In line with new Government guidance in England which requires the closure of separate floors selling non-food items, we have closed the Clothing and General Merchandise departments in our stores that sell these products from a separate mezzanine level."

The guidance from the UK government said: "Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread.

"For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close."

Last month it was Welsh shoppers outraged at being unable to buy basic items such as winter coats, stationery and cleaning products when entire shelves were roped off.

However the Welsh government defended the move as "a straightforward matter of fairness" for the 17-day firebreak lockdown which comes to an end today.

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