I am pressing the many supermarkets in Bristol West to do more to prioritise those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Vulnerable people are still finding it difficult to order food and vital supplies online, despite government advice that they should be avoiding all unnecessary social contact.
I have been contacted by people who are isolating because they are over 70 or have health conditions making them vulnerable. They tell me that although supermarket websites often say they are prioritising the elderly and vulnerable, they cannot get a home delivery slot. This means they rely on neighbours and friends to pick up shopping – which can be difficult when supermarkets are (quite rightly) asking customers not to buy more than they need.
I am also keen to learn how supermarkets are prioritising other customers, including key workers. Some carers, nurses and doctors are finding it hard to get the food they need because their shift patterns force them to shop at peak times. Many care homes also rely on supermarket shopping, so I am keen to understand how these customers can be prioritised. The stories reaching my inbox suggest that some shops could be doing more.
I am also asking supermarket managers what advice they can give to help us all stay safe. We should all be extremely grateful to the people working on checkouts and the shop floor, who are potentially exposed to a lot of contact – how can we reduce the risks for them? I will post any useful guidance I receive from the supermarkets here.
The COVID-19 crisis has been a shock to our food supply system, rippling through stores, distribution networks and supply chains. Many smaller independent shops and restaurants are finding innovative ways of getting food out to customers – some useful resources here – but this alone will not be enough to keep us all fed. If you are struggling to get the supplies you need, please let me know.