A top supermarket boss has urged healthy people to go against Boris Johnson’s advice and visit supermarkets in person to free up delivery slots for the elderly and the vulnerable.
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.”
His comments come after Sainsbury’s said it will access the Government’s list of vulnerable people to help those of the 1.5 million who are registered with the supermarket get a delivery slot.
Mr Walker also called for more protection for store colleagues, saying: “It is a reality of any shopworker’s daily life at the moment that they are facing customer abuse and frustration.”
He said staff had “really felt on the front line in a war” and said there had been delays in obtaining face masks while they were “doing our best to protect them by enforcing all of the new rules around social distancing” and installing protective screens on all tills.
Mr Walker also asked people to not panic-buy even though he can “totally understand why people are fearful given the endless images they are confronted with” of empty shelves.
“By stripping the shelves and not shopping responsibly it means others go without,” he said.