Shopping rules: latest restrictions at Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco & more supermarkets explained


Updated on 02 September 2021 | 17 Comments

We round up the latest shopping rules and restrictions being enforced by the major supermarkets during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we buy things, as all UK supermarkets have introduced new shopping rules and restrictions since March 2020. 

It’s worth noting that even though restrictions in the UK have recently been eased, not all supermarkets have fully changed their rules.

Whether you shop at Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Sainsbury's or any major supermarket, it's important you understand the requirements before you head out. 

Don't forget the face mask

It's advisable to wear face masks in England (but mandatory in Scotland and Wales) and to social distance even though it's no longer required by law. You can read our guide to the best face masks here.

At the time of writing, most supermarkets are recommending you wear a mask – unless you’re exempt.

Some businesses may be able to enforce their own rules and encourage mask wearing or social distancing to protect both yourself and those around you. So, it’s worth bringing a face mask with you (unless exempt) to avoid the possibility of being denied entry.

We have got in touch with the major supermarkets about their face mask rules, which you can find below.

At the time of writing, there have been reports of stock shortages due to more supermarket staff self-isolating and a shortage of lorry drivers, but people are advised to avoid panic buying.

One final point: if you are able to secure an online delivery slot at any supermarket and are self-isolating, please make a note in the 'delivery instructions' section when ordering so the driver can respond accordingly.

Latest Aldi shopping rules

When are Aldi’s stores open?

Stores are usually open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday opening hours are 10am to 4pm.

It's worth checking the store locator for local opening times. 

Aldi has helpfully revealed the busiest and quietest times to shop, which you can check out below.

Busiest and quietest times to shop at Aldi. (Image: Aldi)

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

According to Aldi's website, there are no buying restrictions at the time of writing.

What is Aldi’s policy on face masks?

Aldi says that wearing a face covering is now a ‘personal choice’ but asks customers to continue wearing a face mask if they can.

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times at Aldi?

Aldi no longer offers special opening times for the vulnerable and elderly.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

The discounter no longer offers special opening times for NHS, police and fire service workers. 

Any restrictions on shoppers at Aldi?

Yes, there are markers on the floor to encourage everyone to maintain a safe distance and paying by contactless methods is encouraged.

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

You can’t order grocery products online for delivery although you may be able to use Aldi's Click & Collect service.

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Latest Asda shopping rules

Asda shopping restrictions (Image: Shutterstock)

What are Asda’s opening hours?

Asda's opening times are usually 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays but opening times can vary, so it’s best to check the store locator.

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

Asda says it will occasionally put purchase limits on certain products that are in high demand.

What is Asda’s policy on face masks?

Asda encourages customers to follow Government guidance on face masks and will provide face coverings at the front of the store for those who wish to wear one.

“We encourage customers to be respectful to each other and to follow the Government guidance on face coverings when shopping in our stores,” said a spokesperson for Asda.

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times at Asda?

There are no special opening hours for the elderly or vulnerable, but a Volunteer Shopping Card will allow people to buy goods for those who cannot leave the house.

This card doesn’t involve exchanging cash or sharing bank details and can be used for contactless payment.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

Asda no longer offers dedicated priority hours for NHS workers. 

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Across the store, there are floor markings spaced two metres apart to help encourage social distancing.

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes, the contactless limit has been increased to £45 at Asda.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

Asda is currently offering some home delivery slots over the next few weeks but it’s worth flagging that availability can vary in different areas.

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Lidl shopping rules

What are Lidl’s opening hours?

Lidl's stores are usually open 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays, but it recommends customers check local opening hours.

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

Lidl isn’t planning to introduce any restrictions (at the time of writing).

What is Lidl’s policy on face masks?

Lidl will remind customers that the Government recommends people wear face coverings in crowded areas. 

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times?

There are no dedicated shopping times for the elderly and vulnerable.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

There are none at the time of writing.

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Lidl says that customers should be respectful of others who may prefer to continue social distancing and advises people to pay by contactless if they can.

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes, you can pay for your shopping via contactless for bills of up to £45.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

You can’t order grocery products online for delivery – you must go in store.

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Morrisons shopping rules

Morrisons shopping restrictions (Image: Shutterstock)

What are the opening times for Morrisons?

Morrisons stores are usually open from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays. 

It’s worth checking the store locator for local opening times.

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

There are no buying limits at the time of writing.

What is the policy on face masks?

Morrisons are encouraging shoppers to continue wearing face masks if they can.  

The supermarket also offers sunflower lanyards to those with hidden disabilities, so extra help can be offered.

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times?

There are none at the time of writing, but Morrisons does offer a Doorstop Delivery service for the elderly and vulnerable.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

Morrisons no longer offers NHS workers priority access to its stores.

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Morrisons encourages social distancing and will keep safety measures, including protective screens, in store. 

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes, the contactless limit has been increased to £45.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

The availability of Morrisons delivery slots vary by area – some areas might have less slots due to high demand.

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Sainsbury’s shopping rules

Sainsbury's shopping rules (Image: Shutterstock)

When are Sainsbury’s stores open?

Most stores are open from 7am to 10pm or even 11pm, Monday to Saturday, while Sunday opening hours are 10am to 4pm. 

It’s worth using the store locator to check the opening hours of your local.

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

At the time of writing, there are no buying restrictions in place.

What is Sainsbury’s policy on face masks?

The supermarket has revealed it’ll encourage customers to wear face masks if they can.

“As we respond to the recent change in Government guidance, we know that safety is still top of mind for many of our colleagues and customers,” said Simon Roberts, chief executive at Sainsbury’s.

“Our colleagues’ safety is vital and many of our colleagues would feel more comfortable if those who can wear face coverings continue to wear them.

“We’ve listened closely to our customers too and they are telling us the same.

“We’re asking everyone to be considerate and, while we understand wearing a face covering will now be a personal choice, we want to ensure we best support and protect each other in the weeks and months ahead.”

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times at Sainsbury's?

According to Sainsbury’s site, elderly and vulnerable customers have priority access.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

All NHS and social care workers can gain priority access to Sainsbury’s, providing they have ID.

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Sainsbury’s still asks that only one adult per household does the shopping if possible. 

There is a queuing app available for some Sainsbury’s stores, which allows you to virtually queue. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can be added to a virtual queue by asking a member of staff, who will inform you when you can enter the store.  

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes, the contactless limit has been raised up to £45.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

Sainsbury’s accepts new customer registrations for home delivery and Click & Collect slots but prioritises vulnerable customers for delivery slots. It's worth stressing that online delivery slots may not be available for a while, depending on where you live.

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Tesco shopping rules

Tesco shopping rules (Image: Shutterstock)

What are Tesco's store opening hours? 

Most stores close at 10pm (except Sundays) but it’s recommended that you check opening times for your local.

Are there any buying restrictions in place?

Yes, there are buying limits on some products, including toilet rolls, flour and hand sanitiser. If you’re ordering your shopping online, there is a limit of 115 items per order.

What is Tesco's policy on face masks?

Tesco is encouraging customers to wear face masks.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused on ensuring everyone can get the food they need in a safe environment," said a spokesperson for Tesco. 

"Having listened to our customers and colleagues, we will continue to have safety measures in place in our stores; these include limiting the number of people in store at any time, protective screens at every checkout, hand sanitiser stations and regular cleaning.

"We’re asking our customers and colleagues to be on the safe side, and so we’ll be encouraging our colleagues to wear face coverings whilst they work and encouraging our customers to do the same when they shop with us.”

Similar to Morrisons, Tesco offers sunflower lanyards to disabled shoppers, so they can get extra help without having to ask.

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times?

No, but some stores offer 'quieter hours' between 9am and 10am every Wednesday (except at Express stores).

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

Those who work for the NHS or emergency services, as well as care workers, no longer get priority access to Tesco stores.

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Tesco has confirmed there will be a limit on the number of people allowed in store as the traffic light system is still being used for some of its stores.

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Tesco has raised its contactless limit to £45 in all stores.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

The availability of Tesco home delivery slots is limited, so you could be waiting a while, but availability can vary in different areas.  

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Waitrose shopping rules

Waitrose shopping rules (Image: Shutterstock)

When are Waitrose’s stores open?

Waitrose opening times vary so it's best to check the store locator

Are there any buying restrictions in place at Waitrose?

There are no buying restrictions at the time of writing.

What is Waitrose’s policy on face masks?

Waitrose recommends that customers continue to wear face masks ­– unless exempt.

Any dedicated elderly & vulnerable shopping times?

Waitrose says it will be prioritising online delivery slots for vulnerable and elderly customers, as well as offering an e-gift card so other people can buy goods for them.

Any dedicated shopping times for NHS workers?

Currently there are no dedicated shopping hours for NHS staff.

Any restrictions on shoppers?

Similar to other supermarkets, there will be signs to encourage customers to social distance.

Are contactless card payments up to £45 accepted?

Yes, Waitrose has increased the limit.

What’s the current waiting time for new online deliveries?

You may have to wait several weeks for a delivery slot. 

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