Tesco reopens 'non-essential' aisles in England

By Charlotte Ikonen

Head of Digital Content and Trusted Local News

Tesco reopens 'non-essential' aisles in England

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Tesco has reopened "non-essential" item aisles after lockdown confusion.

The retailer had closed non-grocery aisles in some of the bigger supermarkets around England after new lockdown rules were introduced on November 5.

The aisles were closed to stop customers buying "non-essential" items such as clothes, toys and homeware.

Customers were left bemused at the sight of "non-essential" sections barricaded off by walls of tinsel and stacks of Corona and Lynx Africa.

But the supermarket has since confirmed it reopened its upper floors on Saturday morning, and all items are back on sale.

A spokesperson said: “Our mezzanine levels are now open again for customers in all our stores.”

Under Government guidance, supermarkets were told they "should" close non-essential retail sections of their store "where a business has sufficiently distinct parts".

It states: "For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close."

Customers complained about not being able to buy important items like kids clothes and homeware at a time when other specialist retailers are completely shut due to the four-week lockdown.

The full guidance from the UK government reads: "Where a business has sufficiently distinct parts, and one section provides essential retail and one section provides non-essential retail, the non-essential sections should close to limit interactions between customers and the opportunity for the disease to spread.

"Sufficiently distinct sections might involve operating in separate buildings, across separate floors, a door between sections, using separate cashiers, or another clear demarcation between sections.

"For example a food shop may stay open, but a homeware section on a separate floor or separate building should close."

The guidance adds that shops are not required to cordon off particular aisles, and that "a business selling a significant amount of essential retail may also continue to sell goods typically sold at non-essential retail".

The British Retail Consortium, which represents the industry, said the guidance created "arbitrary" lines over what is or is not essential.

Tom Ironside, director of business and regulations, said the BRC is estimating that closed shops will lose out on £2bn a week and it is essential they be allowed to open - and stay open - from early December.