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Doing your shopping - COVID-19 advice

Access to food is a considerable concern to lots of older people right now. Especially those who are shielding.

We've put together some information about when and where you can get the essentials you need  – and whether you should be going out to do it at all. From the 9th July it will be mandatory to wear a face covering when in an enclosed public space such as shop, unless you have a health reasons which means you cannot wear a face covering.

From the 13th April, the Scottish Government has said that those in the clinically highest risk of severe illness group will have priority access to supermarket delivery slots.

If you have received a letter from the Scottish Government's Chief Medical Officer make sure that you registered with your local authority by the text number or by calling them.

A list of the local authority shielding support numbers can be found here


Can I go shopping?

If you’re at increased risk of being severely affected by coronavirus – if you’re aged 70 or older or under 70 with an underlying health condition – you should ask friends, family and neighbours to support you with essential supplies such as food and medicine.

If this isn’t possible, you can go out for essentials but should make this as infrequent as possible. You should also make sure to practise physical distancing (remaining 2 metres, or 6 feet, away from others) and wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) when you get back home. You should also wear a face covering such as a scarf.

However, if you’re self-isolating because you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms or you have been identified on medical grounds as ‘extremely vulnerable’, then you shouldn’t be leaving the house.

See our page for futher information about what social distancing, shielding, and self-isolating mean here.

The Scottish Government is writing to all those who are ‘extremely vulnerable’ and the letter you receive will include information on how you can get support for essential supplies. From the 13th April, the Scottish Government has said that those in the clinically highest risk group will have priority access to supermarket delivery slots. If you haven’t received a letter but feel that you should be shielding then get in touch with your GP or Local Authority's shielding helpline.


Where can I go to get supplies?

The Government has closed a number of shops considered ‘non-essential’ to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The following remain open so you can still get what you need:

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Pharmacies including non-dispensing chemists
  • Banks
  • Newsagents and off-licences
  • Post Offices
  • Health shops
  • Pet shops
  • Some restaurants and cafés are offering food delivery or takeaway
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Petrol stations
  • Bicycle shops
  • Car rentals
  • Home and hardware shops

Non essential retail shops are now allowed to open providing they have an entrance and exit to outside space. This means stores in shopping centres can't open until we move into phase 3 of lockdown. 

From Monday 6th bars and restaurants that have outside spaces will be allowed to reopen. 


What are supermarkets doing to support me?

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

They’re also introducing measures to reduce people stockpiling items such as toilet paper and pasta, restricting the purchase of certain products in high demand and only allowing a certain number of people in the stores at one time.

Some supermarkets also have a Click & Collect service in place, where you choose your products online and then drive to the shop and a member of staff loads them into your car boot for you.

So far, Sainsburys is the only supermarket with a dedicated phoneline for people to register as vulnerable. This is available on 0800 953 4988 but it may take some time to get through as we know the phone line is extremely busy.

The Scottish Government is currently in discussions with supermarkets to find a secure, legal way to ensure that those known by the Government to be vulnerable will be able to register for priority delivery slots more quickly. We will update this page as this situation develops.

Morrisons have also started a food box service – where pre-packaged boxes can be ordered, however, the only way to register for these is to email foodboxes@morrisonsplc.co.uk

Check with your local supermarket to see what they're doing


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:

Your Local Authority may be able to support you or signpost those who can help. You can find your Local Authority here.

Covid Mutual Aid has groups all around the country and you can look up whether there is one in your local area. Use this website to see what's available in your local area.

Next Door is another website where you can find help from local people. Visit their website here.

Royal Voluntary Service deliver personal and practical support through the power of local volunteers to support older people. Visit their website here or call 0330 555 0310.

British Red Cross Society is a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. Find out more on the website here or by calling 0344 412 2804.

The Trussell Trust runs food banks and provides emergency food parcels. You can check where the nearest food bank is and how you should contact them by clicking here.

The Food Train is a charity that provides a shopping delivery service for anyone over the age of 65 who has difficulty getting their grocery shopping. It costs £5 per delivery, which is paid alonside the cost of your shopping. Find out more on their website here or by calling 01387 270800. 


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.
  • 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.

The Age Scotland helpline

Call our helpline on 0800 12 44 222 for free to speak to an adviser. Open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

Help us support more older people

Demand for our vital services is increasing rapidly. Please help us to be there for older people in Scotland who desperately need us during this crisis.

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