Coronavirus: Hundreds queue outside Tesco as stores open early for NHS workers

Hundreds of people stood in queues waiting to get into Tesco stores in Shropshire this morning, in an hour designated for health workers.

The scene at the Tesco Extra at the Wrekin Retail Park near Wellington. Picture: Steve Cort
The scene at the Tesco Extra at the Wrekin Retail Park near Wellington. Picture: Steve Cort

Tesco announced that on Sundays it would set aside an hour before its regular opening for NHS staff to do their shopping amid panic buying and government advice to stay indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

But today, health workers in Telford and Shrewsbury complained of massive queues stopping them from getting in during the allotted hour.

There were chaotic scenes across the Midlands including at a store in Dudley which store hundreds queueing prior to opening.

WATCH: Chaotic queuing

Steve Cort went to the Tesco Extra at the Wrekin Retail Park near Wellington for 9am and was met with a queue stretching across the car park.

He said: "I'm NHS frontline.

"I was promised by Tesco that I could shop this morning.

"All week after every shift nothing on the shelves.

"9am and look how we are treated. Complete chaos!"

Meanwhile ambulance worker Brendan James was at the Battlefield store in Shrewsbury.

He posted a video to YouTube, showing hundreds of people in a queue snaking away from the store entrance before 9am.

Mr James said: "I've arrived well before 9 o clock in the morning.

"I'm around the back of the store, the whole queue stretches all around the side of the store, around the back, and it will be by the time the store opens to the very end of the car park.

"I am one of the health workers that could get shopping here today but unfortunately there's no way I'm going to be able to.

"I'll be waiting here probably well after 10 o clock when the general public is allowed in to shop.

"Whatever plans have been put in place at the moment to protect our health workers isn't working because we have thousands of people here at a small town... I can only imagine what the supermarkets, in particular Tesco, are like around the country in the big cities."

He said that he gave up and bought food for the day from a sandwich shop instead.

But he did say that the response to the video he posted has been "quite emotional", with people offering to bring him shopping for free.

Tesco's announcement earlier this week said: "From this Sunday, we’re going to introduce a special hour in stores for NHS staff as a thank you for all they are doing.

"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.

"We will be asking all other customers to be respectful of this and to shop during the usual Sunday opening hours."

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