Key workers shopping: When can key workers go shopping?

Key workers are working heroes who are helping to enable British life to continue amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic. Supermarkets have been left widely ravaged by panic buying. Shoppers have been told to buy only what they need, but some retailers have introduced special hours for key workers. So when can key workers go shopping?

Who is a key worker?

Key workers are those employed in industries which are deemed critical to the coronavirus response.

The following sectors outline the eight industries of key workers:

Health and social care: All staff working to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector including those working in the supply chain for this sector.

Education and childcare: Including childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals.

Key public services: Those deemed essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services such as death management and news broadcasting.

Local and national government: Those in administrative occupations essential to delivering the coronavirus response or other public services.

Food and other necessary goods: Such as production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery.

Public safety and national security: police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue employees, National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport: those who keep air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating.

Utilities, communication and financial services: Staff needed for essential services provision, the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies for the COVID-19 response, civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications, postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.


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A video of critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough went viral over the weekend after she was left unable to get food at her local supermarket following a 48-hour shift.

In the video she made an emotional plea to shoppers who have begun buying more than they need amid growing fears of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

Holding back tears in the video, she said: “There’s no fruit, there’s no vegetables.

“I just don’t know how I’m supposed to stay healthy.”

However, now some shops have added designated shopping hours to enable vulnerable shoppers and key workers to visit their stores.


Tesco has introduced a special hour in stores for NHS workers.

This means NHS staff can visit stores an hour before opening each Sunday to undertake their shopping before others.

If you are a NHS worker, you are required to bring a form of ID to the store to prove you are a NHS staff member, such as your staff card.


The supermarket has introduced an NHS hour at all of its stores.

The special hour is in effect every day from Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8am.

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Iceland is opening from 9am to 11am on Wednesday for elderly shoppers.

But it has also introduced an hour specifically for NHS staff.

This NHS hour will take place every day from Monday to Saturday during the final hour of trading.


NHS staffers are invited to shop at the Co-Operative shop from 8am to 9am on Monday to Saturday.

On Sundays, this designated NHS hour will run from 10am to 11am.

Co-op stores are not closed to other customers at that time, but NHS staff are given priority.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer has also set aside time for NHS workers to shop.

The store will be reserved for NHS and emergency service workers during the first hour of trading on every Tuesday and Friday morning.


Sainsbury’s has introduced a special shopping hour reserved for NHS and social care workers alongside elderly and vulnerable customers.

This hour will take place from 8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


Asda has confirmed it will give priority to NHS staff between 8am and 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The aforementioned hours may be subject to change depending on your store, so you are advised to check your local store’s opening hours before visiting any store.

You can find the opening hours for your local Tesco, Morrison’s, Iceland, Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s.

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus, self-isolating or the Government lockdown?

Get in touch with us and will ask an expert to find the answers for you. Email your question to [email protected]

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