Last updated: 06/11/2020
If you've tried to do an online shop recently, you'll know just how hard it is to come by one of those coveted delivery slots. For those who are vulnerable, however, this can be particularly tricky during lockdown, so supermarkets are offering priority slots to those who were previously told to shield. Here's what you need to know, including how to check if you qualify.
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If you have a pre-existing medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, you are able to register with the government to receive support. You can find a list of conditions that are included in this definition, and advice on what you need to do if this applies to you, on the government website here.
During the first wave of coronavirus, the NHS sent out letters to those it considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable, telling them to shield and to not leave the house for this period, including for food shopping.
Shielding has not been reintroduced during the second national lockdown in England, but the government has issued extra guidance for those who are vulnerable - including the advice that you should not go to the shops. The government website also says: "If you already have a priority delivery slot with a supermarket, that will continue – you do not need to do anything further."
If you didn't receive a letter from the NHS, but think you qualify for this support you can register yourself, or on behalf of someone, on the government website. Please note, that this registering process is unfortunately only available to those who live in England. If you live in England, you can use this website to register. You'll then need to fill in a questionnaire.
There are similar services are available to people who live in Scotland, and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland there is a community helpline you can ring that is open five days a week, where you will find more information.
Tesco says it will prioritise customers who are on the government's list of vulnerable people. If you're on the list, Tesco will have contacted you by email earlier in the year. To try and get access to a priority slot, you can also phone 0800 917 7359. Tesco is encouraging people to use these slots as little possible, they can to free them up for people who truly have no other way to get food. So even if you are entitled to a slot, if it's possible for you to get someone else to go into the store and do your shopping for you, you should try to do this instead.
The supermarket identified hundreds of thousands of people classed to be vulnerable for priority home delivery slots, and contacted them by email.
For those with a priority slot who can't place their order online, they are offering a telephone ordering service.
Sainsburys advises that customers in England who are vulnerable can refer themselves for help with food and essential items from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme by calling 0808 196 3646.
During the first lockdown, Asda issued vulnerable customers with a Priority Pass for deliveries. They have now extended these passes so they are valid until until 31 March 2021. It's worth noting that Asda have made some small changes, however, including slot pricing.
In March Waitrose contacted all customers over 70, and offered them and other vulnerable people priority slots on its website. The supermarket worked with the government to try and find ways to reach out to those on the list of vulnerable people.
Morrisons is offering delivery slots through its website and its Amazon prime store. The supermarket has also created a call centre for customers who do not shop online. Customers who wish to place an order should phone 0345 611 6111 and select option five.
To make online shopping simpler, Morrisons have also introduced a range of food boxes which can be delivered.
Iceland have prioritised those on the governments' official 'shield' lists of the most vulnerable people, back in March. These customers were contacted by email.
The high-end retailer announced that 130 of its home and food items are now available via Deliveroo. There is a £4.99 delivery charge and they say deliveries will take a mere 30 minutes.
If you can't leave the house for other reasons, here are a few ways to get food if you need it.