The items considered ‘essential’ when shopping during coronavirus crisis

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new strict measures earlier this week to tackle the spread of coronavirus including only shopping for "essential items" – but what are they?

The message was stay at home, but he outlined a few exceptions where people can leave their house.

He announced that Brits are only allowed to go outside for food, health reasons, and exercise once a day.

Police have the power to issue fines of £30 if people are meeting without a good reason.

Mr Johnson said that people should only go out shopping for “essential items”.

Many “non-essential” shops are now closed, and only those considered “essential” are still open.

So it’s fair that many may be wondering what actually constitutes as essential items.

Luckily, Rachel Pugh, shopping editor at Manchester Evening News, has explained exactly what you should and shouldn’t consider essential.

The Government hasn’t issued guidelines as to what counts, so at the moment these are based on common sense.

Before you head to a supermarket, or another essential shop such as a hardware store, consider these factors:

• Is it urgent?

• Will it significantly impact my quality of life or risk my health and wellbeing if I don’t have it?

• Can I buy it online?

• Will I be putting others at risk by going to buy it?


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So put simply, you need to use your common sense before heading out to the shops.

If you just fancy a nice stroll, a chocolate bar or a new hanging basket for the garden – it’s probably not essential.

But of course, if you are a healthy individual who has run out of baby formula or need more food to feed yourself or your family, this shopping trip can be considered essential.

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Other items which can be considered essential are medication, sanitary products, or if your car is broken and you’re a key worker.

You may also need to pick up some essential items for the elderly or vulnerable, who can’t go themselves.

What you can do to try to keep yourself and others safe, is to get all your groceries in one go.

Plan ahead and try not to go out more than you need to.

Write down everything you need so you don’t spend more time than you need to in the shop.

In these times all the supermarket shelves aren’t likely to be stocked, so it’s worth thinking about substitutions ahead of time.

For example, if they don’t have chopped tomatoes for a Bolognese sauce, you could try passata.

Alternatively, try an online food delivery service like Ocado, or a recipe box service like Hello Fresh.

If you fancy a treat you could try a takeaway app like Deliveroo or Just Eat.

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