Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s ban couples and families from shopping together

Supermarket shoppers in England could be refused entry under new guidance to minimise queues and maintain social distancing.

Three major supermarkets have reinstated rules on shopping in groups amid warnings huge queues could build up as new lockdown restrictions come into force in England.

Shoppers are being reminded to shop alone, wear a face covering and shop sensibly to ensure everyone has access to basic supplies.

In messages to shoppers online, several retailers have reminded customers that couples and families should not shop together as England’s new winter lockdown comes into force.

Sainsbury’s reminded customers to shop alone wherever possible in a bid to cut queues and aid social distancing inside its stores.

In a statement, CEO Simon Roberts said: “Where possible, we ask that you only send one adult per household when you shop with us.

“This will help us manage the number of people in our stores and make your shop quicker and smoother.”

A notice on the supermarket’s website adds: “Our store teams will be asking groups with more than one adult to choose one adult to shop and will ask other adults to wait.

“Children are welcome if they are not able to stay at home.”

Tesco asked that “only one person from each household comes in-store to do their shopping”.

Waitrose is also encouraging shoppers to visit alone.

It said this will “help us manage the number of people in our shops by sending only one member of the household to do their shopping.”

The guidance adds: “While this won’t be possible for everybody, we are very grateful for our customers’ support during this time of uncertainty.”

Aldi’s current advice states: “In order to help with social distancing, we are encouraging all customers to try and reduce the number of family members they bring with them into our stores.

“Where necessary we are using discretion, but like all supermarkets we’re asking people to come alone if possible to support social distancing in our stores.”

These rules have been in place at many of the aforementioned stores since March – however many relaxed their guidelines over the summer.

However, with new lockdown restrictions in England from November 5, the rules have been reintroduced.

Boris Johnson said it was the only way to avert bleak scientific predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter.

His speech on Saturday trigged a second wave of panic-buying across the country.

Supermarkets have been urging people not to stockpile items, but retailers have already warned of scenes reminiscent to March.

Home delivery slots are also filling up fast while some stores have had to reintroduce stockpiling restrictions on items such as bread and flour.

“Our stores are being replenished every day,” a warning on the Lidl website explains.

“That item you want to buy ‘just in case’, might be essential for someone more vulnerable who can’t visit the store multiple times.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.”

Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said panic-buying could “spiral out of control” without intervention.