Wednesday 8 April 2020

Visiting My Local Supermarket During Lock-Down

Well, what a morning - totally exhausted!

Breaking my quarantine:

After twenty-two days of self-isolation, my stores of foodstuffs have been depleted. Whilst I have succeeded for the past fortnight to get fresh aliments and some staples home-delivered, I have been unsuccessful in my attempts at obtaining a delivery-slot from local supermarkets, and this week I could only source a small, insignificant basket of goods from a farm. Many disabled folk who rely on home-delivery have been unable to get their usual slots and there are many who are going without food. The national government has been extremely ill-organised in its whole dealings with regards the pandemic, and appears to have had no contingency plans in place/ However, my local authority ,Trafford, is telephoning folk it believes may be vulnerable and need support to check whether they do so. I have been very critical of my local authority in the past few years, but it is good to be able to applaud them for acting so pro-actively in this instance.


I awoke really early so I could be ready to shop at my local supermarket, Waitrose, along with the other vulnerables during the first hour of the opening-hours set aside for us. My housemate, Rico, who often acts as my principle carer, helped me dress as it was way too early for one of my regular carer calls. I decided upon clothing that could be stripped and go straight into the laundry upon my return home. I donned a long-sleeved top over a T-shirt, gloves to keep my hands germ-free and a scarf, in case it was needed to wrap around my face. Rico loaded the wheelchair into the back of the car. I grabbed a load of bags and my wallet, and we set off a little after nine, store opening-time.

At the supermarket:

I was rather pleasantly surprised at how organised everything is. There are markers at two-metre intervals so shoppers queuing can ensure they retain social-distance. For the most part customers kept their distance bar one odd curmudgeonly old git. The queue moved quite briskly and we were less than five minutes outside. Staff were extremely helpful. They were also very polite and apologetic to the three sets of customers who complained (in that time-frame) at them because they were not permitted to enter until ten and were thus turned away. The first hour of shopping has been reserved for the past fortnight at most large shops for the elderly and other vulnerable folk; and this fact has been in the newspapers and on the news programmes. If individuals have missed a trick, then that is their problem and they ought to accept their oversight with good grace rather than taking out their frustrations on hard-working staff. Let’s face it: we are meant to be staying at home and not visiting others, so most would not have good reason to be in a rush to be elsewhere!

A manager taught me how to use self-scan. I don’t recommend it for big sprees when this is all over, but probably good for a quick grab-and-go shop. However, it meant only I was handling the shopping. I wheeled round the whole store, whilst Rico pushed the trolley and packed the bags as we went along the shelves.

All the counters (butchery, fishmongery & deli), the café and the self-serve coffee-maker were shut down; but the bakery is still churning out fresh loaves - ours was still warm when we picked it up. The flour area was devoid of anything other than bread-making flour, but with no yeast available it was standing untouched. I had a kind server hand me down a bread-mix containing its own yeast medium, so if necessary I can make some bread of my own - well, actually, Rico is the resident bread-baker, so it would be over to him.

Normally, at the point where we reach the café, we should have stopped for a cup of coffee and a snack, a short rest and then continue with the task at hand. However, the café has now been turned into an extended holding area for customers awaiting to be allocated a cashier to assist.

The freezer-zone looks as if locusts have passed through. Plenty of frozen spinach to be had though! Toilet-rolls are aplenty, but rationed to two packs per shopper. We have plenty from our BREXIT stores, but did buy another pack of kitchen-roll. There were hardly any tissues, but I succeeded in finding a double-pack of Kleenex on a low-shelf - one advantage to being in the wheelchair. Similarly, there were no general cleaning sprays.


Thankfully, barring a handful of items, I obtained everything on my extended shopping-list. I am thankful that This Easter I shall be able to have a traditional lamb-roast, even if the friends who may no longer attend are absent. I shall certainly raise a toast to absent friends and say a few prayers for them.

[Image description: kitchen-counter covered in shopping and food preparation.]


One hour and fifteen minutes from leaving the house, we stepped back over the threshold. I immediately stripped off my outer-layers, gloves & shoes and went to wash my hands. After stowing the shopping and washing the fruit & vegetables, intermittently re-washing my hands after dealing with packaging, I returned to my room and had a hot soapy shower. Hopefully, I shall have managed to bypass the virus. I should not need. To go out again for another three weeks or so. Thus there is time to see whether I do develop any symptoms. Fingers crossed. And my prayers for all.

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