In Wales a two week ‘firebreak lockdown’ has started and only essential shops are allowed to open with the essential idea that these essential shops are only allowed to sell essential items, so as not to cheat on the non-essential shops who are not allowed to open. For example, you may not buy an electric kettle at Tesco, because Dai Jones the Electric in Pontypandy has been selling only electrical goods in his shop since 1937.
How are customers and supermarket managers to decide what is essential? Essential for survival or for Covid Comfort?
Tick which of the following you will buy over this weekend as the clocks go back and winter nights draw in. Chocolate of course, chocolate biscuits, bread, wine, potatoes, warm fluffy slippers, rice, cosy pyjamas, bunch of carrots, bunch of flowers, cabbage, boxed set of old black and white films, pork chops, celebrity magazine, cheese, pot plant, milk, Lego set, a free range chicken, new underwear, shredded wheat, paperback book, cocoa pops.
If you ticked more than ten ( 8 if you are vegetarian, 6 if you are vegan ) you are being self indulgent and breaking the spirit of the new rules. Now imagine the task of staff who have to police the supermarket customers.
Chains will be strung across the sweet aisle, padlocks put on the ice cream cabinets and constant patrols to remove flagrant non-essentials from the shelves. As staff must socially distance they cannot grab that bottle of whisky out of your hands so there will be announcements over the PA system.
Will the lady in the lurid pink coat put down the packet of chocolate digestives and raise her hands in the air… now take a packet of plain digestives.
Customers are reminded they must produce their child’s birth certificate if they wish to purchase birthday candles and cake decorations.
Pet owners with a certificate from their vet may purchase one bag of pet food, but not a squeaky mouse toy.
On the ball managers may have already set up deafening alarms to beep if you pick up a box of hair colouring and there would be greater embarrassment if you have braved the medical aisle and got as far as the intimate products…
Perhaps within a few days harassed supermarket staff will allow you no further than the till where you will be handed one basket of food essentials.