Coronavirus: Buyers Face “Essential Items” Confusion


A roll of toilet paper, a plant, an Easter egg

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Easter eggs, milk, exercise weights, garden plants, shampoo, coloring books for kids – what exactly should you do while locking the coronavirus?

Government restrictions imposed on March 23 state that people should only leave their homes for “very limited purposes” – one of which is to buy “necessities”.

But there has been confusion about what it actually means.

A police force said he had taken action against two people who had met at a house party and “were going to the stores for non-essential items”.

Another police service said it was “disappointed” with see people buying bags of compost and plants – saying that these were not “essential races”.

Although some convenience stores have complained, they have been told that Easter eggs are not essential products.

This has led some shoppers to wonder what they can buy when they go to the stores.

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection at Which?, Said it was important that the public had all the information they needed to be able to act responsibly during the foreclosure.

“Buyers should follow government advice and shop as rarely as possible during the foreclosure, only stock up on food, medicine and essentials when necessary.

“If there is confusion among consumers about which products are essential, it is really important that the government provide the greatest clarity on what is expected of people, so that the vast majority who want to act responsibly have all the information they need to do so. . “

What are the rules?

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Supermarkets were allowed to stay open during restrictions

The government says you should only leave the house for very limited purposes, which includes “purchases of basic necessities, such as food and medicine, which should be as scarce as possible”.

It allowed “essential retailers” to remain open, which includes places such as supermarkets, pharmacies, unlicensed, gas stations, newsagents, hardware stores and garages.

Most importantly, there are no restrictions on the products that these companies can sell.

Retail analyst Andrew Busby of consulting firm Retail Reflections believes it is difficult for the government to come up with more rules on what you should buy.

“A basic need from one person to another can be viewed in a completely different way.

“You could say:” Is a bicycle shop a necessity? It was deemed necessary because you have to go out and exercise.

“I don’t see a situation where the government could ever list what is a necessity. If they really want it, that’s another definition of locking. “

“The government must manage a delicate balance. If you lose the population emotionally, there is a much greater risk that they will not follow the directions given to them. “

“We have to stay focused on what we are trying to achieve but, within that, be allowed to use common sense. “

What do the stores say?

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There was a huge demand for products such as pasta during the coronavirus pandemic

Most supermarkets have not told buyers what should be classified as priority or essential products – but have placed restrictions on the number of items you can buy for certain products.

These include paracetamol, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, baby milk, pasta, rice and canned food.

Amazon says it prioritizes taking and shipping certain items that its customers need most during the lockout – including food, health and personal care products, books and items needed to work from home.

Boots – which allows customers to collect orders online at its stores – has stopped selling items such as perfume, electric beauty and self-selecting makeup on its website.

He said it should “help everyone get access to health care and essentials.”

But some stores seem to prevent customers from buying products they consider “non-essential.”

A mother of two, 41-year-old Becki Jones of Sheffield went out to buy food and cleaning supplies for her family after spending more than a week in isolation.

In the store, she asked for compost because she has her own vegetable patch, but a staff member told them they couldn’t sell it because it was “not essential.”

“I said, ‘Why can I buy a chair for the garden and a gnome for my garden, but the compost isn’t essential?’ They couldn’t answer me, that’s ridiculous.

“It’s the only thing that is useful, if you grow your own vegetable, you don’t have to buy it.

“I left very confused and slightly annoyed as to why it was not essential. “

Is it time to do the garden?

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Buyers were seen buying plants during the foreclosure

But some buyers have wondered why some stores are open to selling what they consider non-essential items.

Peterborough police revealed that they had arrested a motorist with a busy car and said he was going to Halfords to see a new bike.

A buyer asked the BBC, “Why are stores like B&Q, Homebase and Superdrug allowed to trade? Have I seen people come out of Homebase, with flat carts with compost, plants and pots? “

Some people say that this could expose staff and buyers to potential risks.

Dominic Watkins, director of retail and food at the DWF law firm, said government directives are “about as clear as possible” and “doesn’t mean discretionary shopping is allowed “

“We should not buy non-essential items like a new sofa or flowers for the garden.

“However, it is recognized that there will be things that will require repair around the house during this period and that stores must therefore be available to supply these products, and that is the reason that home stores and hardware stores are allowed to open.

“Unless the goods are essential for the upkeep, maintenance or operation of the home, people should not try to buy them. “

He said there was more than one gray area around what people were buying when they were also buying essential items.

“If they are in a supermarket or a DIY store, it is clear that it also sells non-essential items and once you are there, there is no legal reason why you cannot buy them . “

The government has declared that the guidelines on restricting coronaviruses are “under constant review”.

He said the rules that existed around stores were “closing certain stores – not the products that companies may or may not sell”.

He added, “It remains a decision for individual stores to choose the products they stock. “


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