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Iceland lead the way as stores across Fenland announce measures to deal with the coronavirus outbreak

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Elderly and vulnerable people in March and Wisbech have been taking advantage of special store openings during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Iceland was the first retailer to announce it would be setting aside two hours of opening today Wednesday to enable the elderly to shop without having to mix with larger crowds of shoppers

At Wisbech Iceland manager James Huggins said the initiative had proved popular with many older people taking advantage of the early opening which will be repeated again next Wednesday, but with a slight change to the time. The store in the Cromwell Road retail park will be open for 9am to 11am for the elderly and vulnerable only.

Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am ..Jamie HUggins Duty Manager. (31871261)
Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am ..Jamie HUggins Duty Manager. (31871261)

One shopper, Thelma, from Wisbech, who took advantage of the restricted shopping opportunity this morning said: "It is a good idea, although there were some empty shelves, but otherwise it was good and it was nice to walk around easily and see what I needed without bumping into a lot of people."

Other retailers were quick to follow suit including QD in Wisbech, which announced it was offering a half hour dedicated to elderly customers daily from 8.30am to 9am Monday to Saturday.

Group chief executive, Nick Rubins, said: “As part of our ongoing programme of community support, we will be opening all our stores half an hour earlier, Monday to Saturday, between 8.30am and 9am. This slot will be dedicated to our elderly customers and vulnerable people in the community, such as those with disabilities.

Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am. (31871260)
Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am. (31871260)

“As a family business, we want to make shopping easier for these valued customers during this very challenging situation. Of course, these customers are also welcome at any time of day and our staff will, as always, take excellent care of them.”

He added: "We are doing everything in our power to keep our shelves stocked, particularly with essential grocery, household, personal care, gardening and pet food products, with new stock arriving every day.”

Sainsbury's tomorrow Thursday (19) is setting aside the first hour of opening to accommodate the elderly and vulnerable and announced from Monday (23) it would be giving priority to those over 70 with its online delivery service. The supermarket giant was contacting customers with more details of this move, which would see older customers given priority of booking slots.

Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am. (31871258)
Wisbech Iceland that has opened has 7am. (31871258)

Meanwhile for any online customers able to travel Sainsbury's is expanding its 'click and collect' service also from Monday.

A statement from Sainsbury's said: "We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. Please let us know if you are self-isolating to help us provide this service for you too."

Sainsbury's was also planning to close it cafes, meat, fish and pizza counters to help free up warehouse space and lorry capacity for products customers really need.

Restrictions have also been extended over a wider range of items with shoppers only allowed to buy three of any grocery product and a maximum of two on the most popular products including long life milk, soap and toilet rolls.

Meanwhile Tesco said that hundreds of its 24-hour stores have had their opening hours reduced in a bid to manage any disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The move took place yesterday Tuesday, with bosses deciding to close all 24-hour stores at 10pm, reopening at 6am on Wednesday morning.

They will continue to open between 6am and 10pm for the immediate future.

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