Now, alongside special hours for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, supermarket chains have started to introduce similar “golden hours” for NHS staff, upon presenting their NHS ID.
This is what you need to know.
NHS staff will be allowed to do their shopping for an hour ahead of usual opening hours on Sundays upon displaying their NHS employee card.
This is only available at Tesco’s larger stores and not their Express stores.
A statement from the supermarket brand said: “We know that those working for the NHS may be finding it hard to find time to shop for their groceries at the moment.
“So, 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.”
The statement also asked their customers to be respectful of this and to shop during usual opening hours.
Sainsbury’s have introduced their dedicated shopping slot for NHS staff and social care workers, between 7:30am and 8am, Monday to Saturday.
A statement from Sainsbury’s said that anyone with an NHS ID would be allowed to shop during this time.
In Asda’s larger stores, priority access will be allotted to NHS workers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 9am.
Asda CEO, Roger Burnley, said: “We all have a clear responsibility to look after each other during this crisis, particularly our most vulnerable groups.
“I was heartened to see how our customers respected this priority access and am proud to be able to extend it to more regular days and also include our amazing NHS colleagues who can access our stores with a little more ease.”
Morrisons does not have a specific shopping hour for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, but will give NHS staff early access to their stores between 7am and 8am every day apart from Sundays.
A statement from the supermarket chain said: “It is really important that we stick to this to help support out vital services at a time when they are going to need us the most.”
NHS workers will be given priority access to M&S shelves on the first hour of Tuesday and Fridays.
The statement from M&S regarding checking ID’s said: “We will ask NHS and emergency services workers to show their staff passes or other relevant ID such as a Blue Light Card.
“Of course, in this unprecedented time our colleagues may not be able to always check ID and we’re relying on our customers to respect this request.”
While Waitrose aren’t setting aside a specific time for NHS workers to do their shopping, they are setting aside “hard-to-find” and “essential products” exclusively for NHS staff, on production of an NHS card.
Waitrose also said that they would be giving NHS staff priority on their checkout service, to ensure that they can get their shopping done as quickly as possible.
Aldi announced recently that they are introducing dedicated shopping times for Emergency Workers.
Aldi will open between 9:30am and 10am on Sundays (and 8:30am and 9am in Scotland) soley for key workers in the NHS, Police and Fire Service.
These customers will also take priority at checkouts when they open at 10am.
Entry to Aldi stores during this time is dependent on relevant ID.
Rather than dedicating time to NHS staff at the start of the day, Iceland is allocating its final hour of trading from Monday to Saturday for NHS staff only.
Lidl has not announced any dedicated shopping hours.
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.
All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.
Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.
Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.
The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.
The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.
For more information on government advice, please check their website.
Should I avoid public places?
You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
When to call NHS 111
Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.