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Coronavirus Kent: Hundreds of people queued outside Sainsbury's in Maidstone for the store's reserved elderly and vulnerable shopping hour

Queues spiralled around the Sainsbury's car park this morning as hundreds of over 70s and vulnerable people made the most of a shopping hour reserved just for them.

From 7am to 8am, the Romney Place store in Maidstone was only letting in people who needed access to the supplies the most.

Sainsbury's Maidstone
Sainsbury's Maidstone

It's part of special measures brought in by the supermarket in response to people clearing shelves and stockpiling because of the coronavirus. Other stores across the county also took part.

Jennifer Webb, 72, and Michael Webb, 75, from Coxheath were first in the queue.

"We struggled to get some things before so that's the reason why we got up early."

Clive Bradburn, 73, said: "I'm not just buying for me, I'm buying for my 95-year-old mother who can not get out the house so being over 70 myself that's a double whammy.

"I've bought more than I would normally get but I'm certainly not stockpiling.

Jennifer and Michael Webb
Jennifer and Michael Webb

"I got here dead on 7am and we were queuing round the car park.

"It's a good idea this hour, I hope they'll continue to do it, maybe the novelty will wear off and there will be fewer people."

Sonya Walsh, 71, didn't get everything she needed and said the queues to pay were horrendous.

"There was no broccoli or cauliflower but I did manage to get most of what I wanted so I'm happy," she revealed, adding: "I didn't need toilet roll but it did look like the shelves were empty.

"I wanted to buy flour for cake making but they didn't have any. It's an excellent idea this reserved hour, even if you can't get everything."

Sonya Walsh
Sonya Walsh

Hollie-Paige Barnwell, 25, and Tracey Homden, 46, met in the queue and helped each other with their shopping.

Tracey said: "I have bad balance so this lady was really kind helping me with my shopping.

Hollie-Paige added: "We just bought the essentials bread, milk, and tea bags. Everyone has been so welcoming passing stock to others who didn't have it so it's been a really nice experience."

Tracey added: "I've not stockpiled and I wont, because that's not fair."

Store manager Mani Powar said staff are constantly getting deliveries in and are doing all they can to make sure people get what they need.

Colin Wallsgrove
Colin Wallsgrove

Colin Wallsgrove, 83, from Barming said: "I was very disappointed the shelves were empty. I came for bread flour but there was no flour at all. I queued at 6.45am this morning."

Ernest Osaze, 45, was the security guard tasked with only letting those in who met the criteria.

He said: "There were a few younger people trying to get in but all in all, it was a huge success.

"By seven o'clock when we opened the doors they were very much excited and seeing the smiles on their faces was a joy. I think this should be done once or twice a week during this period."

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