Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put a halt to non-essential Click & Collect services in a bid to keep people at home and stem the spread of coronavirus – however clothing and footwear can still be offered.
Sturgeon announced the measures today saying that from Saturday 16 January Click & Collect may only be offered for items such as clothes, shoes, baby equipment, books and homeware. Stores must also offer appointments and stagger collection times.
The move follows John Lewis’s decision to pause Click & Collect while the spread of the virus reaches peak numbers. Health Secretary Matt Hancock praised John Lewis’s decision, as did Sturgeon.
Speaking this lunchtime, Sturgeon told MSPs: “Case numbers are still so high – and the new variant is so infectious – that we must use be as tough and as effective as we can to stop it spreading.
“That means taking further steps to stop people from meeting and interacting, indoors and also outdoors. Today’s measures will help us to achieve that. They are a regrettable, but necessary, means to an end.”
Other tighter restrictions for Scotland include take-away food businesses not allowing customers to enter their premises, a ban the sale of take-away alcohol to be consumed outside, and an instruction that employers must support their staff in working from home.
Plumbers and builders, for instance, offering services in the home may only do so if those services are deemed essential.
Speaking on the Today programme earlier today Matt Hancock praised John Lewis’s move and appeared to urge other retailers to follow their lead. He said he was also grateful to the major supermarket chains, which have said they will be refusing entry to any customer not wearing a face mask unless exempt. Some stores will have disposable masks on offer for customers who may have forgotten theirs.
“It is very, very important that everybody abides by the rules, and abides by the spirit of the rules, not just the letter … I’m grateful to John Lewis for the change they’ve made, and I’m grateful for the supermarkets for the increased compliance they’re going to require; that is by far and away the best way to get this under control,” Hancock said.
For some retailers, in particular independents, Click & Collect has proved a lifeline during the pandemic. CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: “When well organised, Click & Collect services instinctively feel like a safe way for firms to keep trading.
“Of course, firms can choose to suspend Click & Collect if that makes sense for them, but for many others it could mean the difference between business survival or not.
“There have also been concerns that limiting Click & Collect will merely encourage more people to go to supermarkets to shop instead.”