Nottingham City Council has written to all major and local independent supermarkets requesting a priority shopping hour for older and vulnerable citizens be reinstated with the pending national lockdown, with Age UK Notts backing the council’s call.

In mid-October, the Deputy Leader of the council, Councillor Sally Longford, wrote to all major and local supermarkets in Nottingham thanking them for their diligent efforts to keep customers safe and asked if they would consider reintroducing priority shopping hours again to keep local people safe.

When the pandemic first hit in Spring, many shops introduced these slots to support key workers, elderly and the clinically vulnerable.

Now, Nottingham City Council and Age UK Notts are offering to work with supermarkets to establish these again on a wider basis. After feedback from local people, the council and Age UK Notts know there were issues during the previous priority shopping slots, for instance varying shift patterns, setting the time too early for elderly and disabled citizens hoping to use their discretionary bus passes to access the shops, managing the queues to allow access to the priority shopping hour and promoting when these hours were.

The council and Age UK Notts have offered to work with supermarkets to establish when these hours could be most convenient for citizens and to promote them through neighbourhood and local City Council and Age UK Notts communication channels.

In response to the letters, some supermarkets promised to keep this under review, while Tesco confirmed it offers priority shopping hours between 9am and 10am on Wednesdays and from 10am to 11am on Sundays. Other supermarkets said they would keep it under review.

Kemal Salih, Manager of Kaya Food Centre on Alfreton Road, said his shop would be introducing a priority shopping hour and 15% discount for NHS workers bringing ID to the shop in the priority hour to support its local customers. He said: “Lockdown was really difficult for our community last time and we want to make sure they know we will look after them as so many of our community look after their families, friends and the public – especially our NHS workers, who we will offer a special discount to.

“Times like these make it so important shops like ours can lead by example for Nottingham, supporting our older and more vulnerable citizens with a priority shopping hour so they can feel safe and get everything they need from Kaya Food Centre. We just want to help the community however we can and we think the council’s priority shopping hour is a sensible and easy way for us to do that.”

Councillor Longford said: “We know how valuable these priority shopping hours were to our key workers, vulnerable citizens and shift workers during the first lockdown and appreciate that the new national lockdown will be causing anxiety to people who want to maintain some normality during the next month by visiting the shops.

“I would like to thank those supermarkets who came back to us on our proposals, either citing their already strenuous efforts to keep shelves stacked and stringent hygiene measures, that they would keep the idea under review or that they already have them in place, as Tesco has at its Extra and Superstore outlets. We’re especially grateful to our local supermarkets like Kaya Food Centre, who have heard what are looking to do and answered us very quickly. It’s great to see our local shops doing their bit to keep their customers safe in worrying times. We hope to hear from more local supermarkets in Nottingham.

“We feel having such a policy across the city is an important step to keeping our citizens safe as we enter this new lockdown to reduce the rates of COVID-19 and get back to some sense of normality as quickly as possible.”