The list, given to supermarkets earlier this month, includes the people who the government considers ‘extremely vulnerable’ to COVID-19. But many people who have been shown to be vulnerable to severe illness have been excluded from the list. Among them are the elderly over the age of 70, pregnant women or those with health conditions like diabetes.
Barry Young, a 75-year-old pensioner from Bournemouth, spoke to The Breaker about how he has been finding it increasingly difficult to get food delivered. Barry has a heart condition, but is not included on the list of extremely vulnerable. He and his wife always used to shop in-store at Sainsbury’s, but have recently been shopping online with Tesco. However they have noticed that it is getting harder to book a delivery slot. “For the last three days we’ve been trying and haven’t had any success at all,” he says.
“I realise it must be difficult at the moment with the situation and older people… but there must be a lot of people like me.”
What are supermarkets doing to help?
Sainsbury’s has responded to the high demand for delivery slots by expanding their click and collect slots. They have added 600,000 slots since the lockdown began. They are also attempting to deliver to some elderly customers, and say that they have identified around 450,000 elderly people that already had accounts with them.
“We’ve been trying to help those who are not on the list”, a spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said. Whilst they admitted that they have been prioritising the people on the government list, they said that they are doing their best to serve others who are not.
They have also introduced a volunteer gift card scheme, which makes it easier for other people to do elderly and vulnerable people’s shopping for them.
Tesco have also increased the number of delivery slots available. They have 400,000 more than before the start of the lockdown. Despite this, customers such as Barry have still seen a decrease in availability.
With the government list of extremely vulnerable excluding so many people, hopefully the supermarkets will step up to help more of those in need.