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There's a lot going on at the moment, but one of the things that's making people anxious is how they will do their shopping. We've put together some information about when, where and how you can get the essentials you need  – and whether you should be going out to do it at all.


Can I go shopping?

Yes you can go shopping, however if you are considered clinically vulnerable (e.g. you are over 70) or you are considered clinically extremely vulnerable (you were previously advised to shield) then you should take extra care and may want to consider some of the following:

  • When out you should practice social distancing and stay 2 metres away from anyone not in your household or support bubble
  • Wash your hands on your return home for 20 seconds and avoid touching your face
  • You may want to make your trips as infrequent as possible
  • You may still wish to rely on family, friends and neighbours to pick up supplies for you
  • It is now mandatory for those that can, to wear a face coverings inside shops, for more information see our face coverings guidance here.
  • You may still not feel comfortable going out shopping and that’s okay too, there are still options available for support, see below for more information

You should not be going shopping if you fall into any of the categories below:

  • You are self-isolating because you or someone in your household or support bubble has coronavirus symptoms
  • You are self-isolating as you have been advised by the NHS Test and Trace service that you have been in close contact with someone who has a positive coronavirus test
  • You are self-isolating as you have recently returned from a country where you need to isolate on your entry to the UK.

Where can I go to get supplies?

Most shops are now open for business as before but they will have rules in place to keep you and their staff safe.

The Government have published this information on what options are available if you can’t leave your home to shop. It includes both online and telephone delivery service options and outlines what different organisations are doing to support you.


What are supermarkets doing to support me?

Several large supermarket chains have introduced measures to support older people to get the supplies they need, such as protected shopping hours and priority delivery slots.

The government have provided some supermarkets with the list of those who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and advised to shield. Even though shielding has been paused supermarkets are still prioritising delivery slots for these people, and you should check with your local supermarket to see how you can access this support.


When should I wear a face covering?

It's now mandatory to wear a face covering in all shops, supermarkets and shopping centres.

However these rules do not apply to everyone and you do not need to wear a face covering if you or the person you care for:

  • find it difficult to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • find that putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • need to eat or drink
  • need to take medication
  • are avoiding harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others.

This list of exemptions is not exhaustive. You don't have to wear a face covering if you have justifiable reasons for not wearing one, due to your health or disability.

Some shops and supermarkets may ask that staff wear face coverings, but it's not mandatory and is up to individual workplaces to decide how best to keep their staff safe.

It may not always be clear why someone is not wearing a face covering, so it's important to be respectful of those who aren't.

For more information on face coverings, including the suitability of certain masks, when else you may need to wear one and where you can get them from see our face coverings advice here.


What if I can't do my shopping?

If you’re not able to go out for essential supplies because you’re self-isolating or shielding and can’t get support from others, you can use the following options for support:

  • You can call our helpline on 01983 525282 and we can advise you on the local support available to you
  • Community aid groups have been created in response to the coronavirus and offer help to those in need in the community. Most of these can be accessed via social media such as Facebook or Twitter
  • Your Local Authority may be able to support you or signpost to those who can. You can find your Local Authority here.
  • Vulnerable people and frontline health and social care workers can self-refer into the NHS Volunteer Scheme to get support for shopping, medication delivery and check in and chat calls. This includes those who are over 70 with underlying health conditions and all those with particular conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. To self-refer you can call 0808 196 3646 (8am-8pm). For more information and to see whether you are eligible for this support please see here.

How do I pay for my shopping if I can’t go out?

UK Finance have lots of information on their website about different ways you can pay for your shopping. Including a tool to find the best option for you. You can find this information here.

Here are some top tips to help get the essentials you need:

  • Make a list of the things you need day-to-day, including food, household essentials and medication.
  • There is no need to stockpile. Shops and pharmacies will keep refreshing their supplies and many have introduced measures to reduce stockpiling.
  • A change in routine may mean you find eating and drinking more difficult for tips on eating and drinking well see here.
  • It may take longer than usual to receive online deliveries to your home, so plan ahead, particularly if you usually have prescriptions delivered. If you have any concerns about your medication, talk to your pharmacist.
  • If someone claims to be from a recognised organisation, ask to see proof or check with the organisation itself. 
  • If someone you don’t know offers you help with your shopping don’t feel pressured to accept help. If you do accept help never hand-over money, bank details or cards to someone you don’t know offering to help you.
  • If someone offers to do your shopping, ask for a receipt so that you can pay them on their return to cover the costs of the items.

Find out about our 'Out & About' Cards

Age Friendly Island and its partners have created a set of 'Out & About’ Cards to help people to feel more confident to navigate social distancing and other Covid-secure measures that are now in place.