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Coronavirus Kent: Tesco in Gillingham sees long queues of shoppers at 6am over Covid-19 fears

Video has emerged of people queuing outside a supermarket in the early hours in scenes compared to the Christmas build up.

Tesco in Courteney Road, Gillingham, saw shoppers arrive before 6am this morning.

Long queues had formed early this morning

John Luck, who filmed the queue, said: "Tesco at 6am, what is the point, no point in even going in there is there.

"Absolutely no point whatsoever, the queues out of the car park all the way to McDonald's."

Last week an Aldi in Strood saw a similar start to the day, with customers arriving 10 minutes before the store had opened.

However, a staff member from Tesco described how these customers were elderly and carers of those who cannot leave home.

Queues out of the door at 6am this morning at Tesco in Gillingham (31892573)
Queues out of the door at 6am this morning at Tesco in Gillingham (31892573)

She said: "I've worked a full night shift the last two nights. Monday night we were open all night, the store was busy because people know that's when the deliveries come in so we couldn't restock efficiently.

"Last night Tesco closed all stores over night, so people have queued.

"The people in that line are elderly, are parents, are neighbours of the elderly, friends of people in quarantine, carers etc.

"Also lots of them were regular customers that normally shop at that time or earlier but because the doors were shut, which they normally aren't, a queue formed.

"99.9% of them were not trying to bulk buy anything they just wanted a few essentials and they knew they only way to do it is to be there early, exactly the same as at Christmas.

"As a staff member working tirelessly at the moment I can tell you most of the people in that queue will have greeted staff politely, thanked them, wished them luck and smiled. They are making our job easier."

Shelves this morning after a night of preparation and re-stocking by staff
Shelves this morning after a night of preparation and re-stocking by staff

Tesco have announced customers will be restricted to only three items per customer on every product line and multi-buy promotions will be removed in order to try and stop panic buying.

The supermarket giant confirmed the changes will come into force tomorrow.

A statement said: "In order to allow Tesco colleagues to focus on stocking shelves, helping to provide the essential groceries you are looking for and to avoid waste, we will close all meat, fish, deli counters, and salad bars.

"To be able to ensure our stores are clean, that we can replenish stock, and allow our colleagues to rest, we will change our trading hours with all stores closing at 10pm.

"To ensure we are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of infection for both our customers and colleagues, we will be introducing some distancing measures at the checkout and, to make it swifter, invite customers who can, to pay by card.

"To help free up slots for the more vulnerable, such as our elderly customers and those who are self-isolating, we are encouraging customers who shop online or choose Click+Collect for their grocery home shopping, to prioritise shopping in-store where possible.

Shelves at Tesco last night after staff couldn't restock the shelves
Shelves at Tesco last night after staff couldn't restock the shelves

"To ensure our more vulnerable and elderly customers can shop in-store, we will prioritise one hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning between 9-10am (except in our Express stores) and ask that you respect this."

The British Retail Consortium, which represents Tesco along with other superstores, issued advice regarding the increase in certain items being purchased.

Chief executive of the group Helen Dickinson said: "We thank all our colleagues in stores and supply chains who are working day and night to keep the nation fed.

"We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.

"There is enough for everyone if we all work together.

"Together we can make sure we are looking out for family, friends, neighbours.

"Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home."

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