Here are the new restricted opening hours for supermarkets amid coronavirus pandemic

By Helen Johnson
Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 2:10 pm
As customers continue to stockpile amid the coronavirus pandemic, some supermarkets are changing their opening hours to restock shelves and allow elderly people to access certain items (Photo: Shutterstock)
As customers continue to stockpile amid the coronavirus pandemic, some supermarkets are changing their opening hours to restock shelves and allow elderly people to access certain items (Photo: Shutterstock)

As customers continue to stockpile amid the coronavirus pandemic, some supermarket chains are changing their opening hours to restock shelves and allow elderly people to access certain items.

Across the UK, supermarkets have seen huge queues, with shelves stripped bare of essentials and an increased demand for items such as toilet roll, flour, handwash, milk and bread.

Here are the altered opening times for the UK’s most popular supermarket chains.

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    A number of stores are now operating at reduced hours. Some Tesco Extra stores and larger Metro stores have reduced their hours to between 6am and 10pm, in order to be able to properly restock overnight.

    Tesco is also introducing a special shopping hour for its workers and NHS staff from Sunday (22 March) onwards. Those eligible will be able to browse an hour before traditional shop opening hours.

    In a statement, Tesco said: “They can come to our large stores one hour before the usual store opening time every Sunday, and will be able to browse the store and select their shopping before the checkouts open.

    "All we ask is that they bring a form of ID with them to store, such as an NHS staff card.”

    To check your local Tesco store, visit:


    Asda has revealed it is closing its 24 hour stores between 12am and 6am on a temporary basis. The supermarket will also be prioritising NHS workers in larger stores every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 9am.

    To check your local store’s opening hours, visit:


    In a recent letter to customers, the supermarket’s CEO said: “You will have seen that we put restrictions in place this week to ensure that more products are on shelf for longer. From Monday 23rd March, we are consolidating our opening hours and all our supermarkets will be open from 8am to 8pm, Monday-Saturday, including those with an Argos store. Sunday opening, Sainsbury’s Local and petrol station opening times will stay the same.”

    Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all of the chain’s supermarkets will dedicate the hour of 8am - 9am to serving elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and Social Care workers.

    To find the opening hours for your local store, visit

    These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo WHO)


    From Monday to Saturday, the German supermarket chain will be open between 8am and 8pm. Sunday opening hours remain the same - 10am to 4pm (or 6pm in Scotland).

    To check your local store, visit:


    The supermarket is opening an hour earlier than usual in order to let elderly customers do their shopping.

    To check the opening times of your local Lidl, visit:


    Iceland will open its supermarkets early for elderly customers to visit before stores open to the public.

    Each day, elderly shoppers can now visit between 8am - 9am to get their shopping first. The final hour of trading Monday to Saturday will also be for NHS staff only.

    To check local store’s opening times, visit


    The supermarket has introduced an NHS hour at all of their stores every day, Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8am.

    To check opening hours for your local store, visit


    M&S has announced that it will give the first hour of every Tuesday and Friday morning to NHS and emergency service workers.

    To check opening hours for your local store, visit:


    Although opening times have not yet changed, Waitrose do currently have a measures in place for the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them in, with a prioritised and dedicated shopping hour every day. This is the first opening hour of the shop.

    To check opening hours for your local store, visit:


    Co-op haven’t made changes to their opening times, but are restricting purchases to two per customer on some products, including hand sanitiser, soap, tinned goods, pasta, rice, long-life milk, sugar, baby food and nappies.

    To check opening hours for your local store, visit:


    Although opening times haven’t changed, different Nisa stores are offering help to the elderly and vulnerable, by offering extended services to customers, including free deliveries.

    To check opening hours for your local store, visit:

    Coronavirus: the facts

    What is coronavirus?

    COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

    What caused coronavirus?

    The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

    How is it spread?

    As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

    What are the symptoms?

    The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

    What precautions can be taken?

    Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

    Government advice

    As of Monday 16 March the government advised that everyone should be observing social distancing - avoiding unnecessary travel and working from home where possible. Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms now needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

    The government has now instructed bars, restaurants and theatres to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

    The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.

    For more information on government advice, please check their website.

    Should I avoid public places?

    The advice now is to avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

    What should I do if I feel unwell?

    Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

    When to call NHS 111

    NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

    Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS