Huge queues form this morning outside Thanet Tesco stores

Queue at Teco Westwood Image from Jake Snowden video

Crowds have queued outside Tesco at Westwood for opening this morning (March 22) despite government advice on social distancing.

The queue at the Westwood store stretches far across the car park and many people are clustered in groups.

Advice has been to shop online but delivery and click and collect slots are not available for several weeks. It is understood many shoppers may have been NHS staff trying to get supplies before starting shift and IDs had to be checked at the door. However, not all people were key staff and should not have been queuing for the dedicated hour.

Busy: Photo David Townsend

Tesco, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl are due to hire thousands of staff to try and cope with the demand,

Sainsbury’s has asked shoppers to stay 1m away from shop staff if possible.

Westgate resident Lorraine Hambidge has created 2m apart signs for shops in the town.

National data

As of 9am on 22 March 2020, 78,340 people have been tested in the UK, of which 72,657 were confirmed negative and 5,683 were confirmed positive.

281 – a rise of 48 – patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died.

In Kent, 48 people are confirmed as positive for the virus – up 13 from March 20 – with a further 11 in Medway.

Confirmed cases in Thanet include one at Birchington Vale, another in Westgate, a staff member at Saga and a parent of a Chatham & Clarendon grammar student as well as an unconfirmed number being treated at QEQM Hospital.

Tesco Manston Photo Katie Keen

The UK has not yet reached the peak of the virus and steps to halt the spread include closures of schools, hospitality and leisure venues and the advice for social distancing and social isolation.

Despite this, and the rising death toll in affected countries such as Italy, the message is not getting through to everyone.

Government advice

The government has urged the public to take steps to protect themselves and the wider population from the coronavirus, including:

  • Everyone to stay at home unless they need to get essential supplies such as food and medicines.
  • All those able to work from home to do so, unless their work is essential.
  • Only travelling if absolutely necessary – while public transport won’t stop, this should only be used for essential travel  – for example by key workers to travel to and from work.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are to:

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
  3. Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
  4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
  5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:

  • are over 70
  • have an underlying health condition
  • are pregnant

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days