Supermarkets to use Government data to get supplies to most vulnerable

Supermarkets will be using the Government’s data on those most at risk from coronavirus to help vulnerable people get the supplies they need.

Asda said it has a “dedicated team” working with the Government, while Sainsbury’s said it will be able to see the data soon and then prioritise delivery slots for those most at risk.

An Asda spokesman said the company is “working with Government and some of our fellow supermarkets to ensure those people who have been identified as highly vulnerable get what they need and are protected from Covid-19”.

Coronavirus
Shoppers queue outside an Asda supermarket (Jane Barlow/PA)

The news comes after one supermarket boss urged healthy people to go against Boris Johnson’s advice and visit shops in person to free up delivery slots for the elderly and those most vulnerable to the pandemic.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said the company has “done their best” to restrict online orders to those most in need, but any new slots released are being “quickly snapped up”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In a seminal address to the nation, the Prime Minister urged everyone to use food delivery services wherever possible; the reality is that current demand vastly exceeds supply.

“I’d actually urge the opposite of the PM, in that, if you are healthy, not in a vulnerable category and adhere to social distancing guidelines, please do shop in store, but make sure you shop responsibly.”

He added: “That will enhance priority online for those who need it most.”

Coronavirus
Iceland’s boss has urged healthy people to shop in store to free up delivery slots for the elderly and vulnerable (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it is “working with the retailers to get them the information they need – in addition to their own data – to help ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible to the people with medical conditions that make them most vulnerable”.

A spokesman added: “We have also introduced a range of measures to keep food supply flowing and support home deliveries, such as issuing guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up more quickly, and implementing extensions to drivers’ hours.”

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