Sainsbury’s boss says there will be social distancing queues for supermarkets until September – The Sun

SAINSBURY'S has warned queues and other coronavirus social distancing measures could remain in place until September.

The supermarket says it's working towards the assumption that the current measures will stay in place until the end of June, with a gradual lifting over the summer.

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Ultimately, it says this will depend on the government's plans, but it's forecast disruption until mid-September.

The comments were made during the supermarket's preliminary results published today for the year to March 7, 2020.

When questioned on whether queues outside shops would continue, Sainsbury's chief executive, Mike Coupe, told the BBC Today programme this morning: "It's a fair bet that [queues] will continue for the foreseeable future."

He added: "It's pretty certain that the social distancing, plastic screens, dividers on checkouts will remain for the foreseeable future."

What social distancing measures has Sainsbury's put in place?

HERE are some of the measures Sainsbury's has taken during the epidemic:

  • Recruiting thousands of temporary staff to work in stores, as drivers and in distribution centres
  • Prioritising all online grocery slots for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people
  • Increasing the total number of slots available weekly by nearly 50 per cent with a goal of delivering 600,000 slots a week
  • Restricting the number of products shoppers can buy in a single shop
  • Limiting the number of customers allowed into shops at any one time
  • Increasing security and cleaning and introducing strict social distancing and hygiene measures
  • Limiting product ranges to prioritise availability of essential items
  • Closing fresh food counters and cafes in supermarkets so staff can focus on keeping essential food items on shelves
  • Closing all 573 standalone Argos stores from March 24, although shoppers can still order online for home delivery or collect at Argos shops inside Sainsbury's stores while doing their food shop

The supermarket's profit before tax was up 26 per cent over the period to £255million.

Mr Coupe says grocery sales have been boosted during the epidemic – with more food sold in five days than on the busiest day at Christmas.

But Sainsbury's says it's lost money on clothing and fuel sales, as well as on the cost of implementing protective measures in stores.

The supermarket has installed plastic screens around checkouts, for example.

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It says it's also taken a hit from staff absence, with Mr Coupe telling the Today programme that at one point 20 per cent of Sainsbury's workforce was either off sick or self-isolating.

Self-isolating staff at Sainsbury's are paid 14 days full pay, while extremely vulnerable staff and those told to shield get 12 weeks full pay.

The supermarket hasn't furloughed staff, and adds that workers have been paid a bonus of 10 per cent on hours worked from March 8 to April 5, 2020.

 

Mr Coupe added: "This is an unsettling time for everyone, but I am incredibly proud of the way the business has responded, continually adapting and responding to customer feedback.

"We will continue to work hard to provide food and other essential products to households across the UK and Ireland who are adapting to a new way of living.”

The news comes as Tesco today doubled its online delivery slots and extended its 10 per cent bonus for staff.

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