Brits ignore self-isolation orders and head out for DIY gear

Brits ignore self-isolation orders and head out for DIY gear

March 29, 2020

Because everyone needs a Brooklyn Bridge picture and a steering wheel during lockdown: Brits ignore orders to stay at home and get to grips with DIY, car repairs and gardening after days indoors

  • Boris Johnson said Britons should only shop for essential food or medicine
  • But many are flouting the instructions and stocking up on DIY equipment
  • The shoppers are risking fines from the police under new emergency laws
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Britons have defied Boris Johnson’s plea to every household that they must stay at home for all but essentials by splashing out on everything from paintings to steering wheels in stores.  

The Prime Minister, who has himself tested positive for coronavirus, wrote to 27 million homes across the country today urging people to stick to tight restrictions on shopping and travel as the death toll rose by 209.

But shoppers in Southend today were spotted buying non-essential items from The Range hardware store, including a large picture of the Brooklyn Bridge and a washing basket.

Britons have defied Boris Johnson ‘s plea to every household that they must stay at home for all but essentials by splashing out on everything from paintings to steering wheels in stores


The Prime Minister, who has himself tested positive for coronavirus, wrote to 27 million homes across the country today urging people to stick to tight restrictions on shopping and travel as the death toll rose by 209

While the government has allowed hardware and agriculture shops to remain open, it appears some are disregarding the rules on what counts as an ‘essential’ shopping trip

Others looked keen to get on with their long-furloughed DIY projects, with customers walking out with pots of paint, steering wheels and compost.

While the government has allowed hardware and agriculture shops to remain open, it appears some are disregarding the rules on what counts as an ‘essential’ shopping trip.

Yesterday, shoppers in Stockton-on-Tees were spotted emerging from B&M with a variety of non-urgent items including a lava lamp, paint a houseplant and doormats.

B&M has remained open as it sells essential products including food, groceries and pet food, but many shoppers appeared to stock up on other goods inside the store. 

The flagrant disregard for the strict orders further risks spreading coronavirus as the Government desperately wants the public to remain at home.

On Monday, Mr Johnson addressed the nation, ordering people to only leave home for essential shopping such as food or medicine, or for one form of exercise per day.

The harsh measures came into effect after many had been ignoring previous instructions to remain indoors and maintain social distancing.

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings, but it appears that has not discouraged everyone.

The Government hopes its policy of self-isolation and social distancing will help to delay and slow the peak of the pandemic and allow the NHS to cope.


The shoppers were spotted carrying non-essential items to their cars, risking further spreading the virus

The shoppers were taking advantage of the small queues but they could risk fines if the police deem their outings non-essential

Those who do venture outside have been advised to remain at least two metres away from anyone not from their household at all times

The Government hopes its policy of self-isolation and social distancing will help to delay and slow the peak of the pandemic

Those who do venture outside have been advised to remain at least two metres away from anyone not from their household at all times.

A number of shops still open have implemented their own measures to ensure its customers do not further spread the contagious virus.

Which shops count as an ‘essential business’ 

Government guidelines released this week have clarified which types of stores count as ‘essential’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

These allowances come on top of supermarkets and pharmacies.

The government says however that trips to these shops must be kept ‘as infrequent as possible’ 

They include:  

• Petrol stations

• Bicycle shops

• Hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire

• Veterinary surgeries and pet shops

• Agricultural supplies shops

• Corner shops, newsagents and off-licences selling alcohol, including those within breweries

• Laundrettes and dry cleaners

• Post offices

• Vehicle rental services

• Car garages and MOT services

• Car parks

• High street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points

• Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points where they are on the premises of any of the above businesses

• Public toilets

Many are only allowing a certain number of shoppers in at one time, while the rest have to queue outside in designated spaces, maintaining distance from each other. 

Tesco boss Dave Lewis has written to customers saying staff will draw new floor markings in the checkout areas, install protective screens on checkouts, and introduce one-way aisles.

‘Our social distancing plans aim to protect customers from the moment they enter our car parks, to browsing products, to paying and finally exiting our stores,’ he wrote.

And in a letter to customers, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said the number of people allowed in stores and at ATMs at any one time will be limited.

 He said queuing systems will be put in place outside stores and people are urged to arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning, and encouraged people to pay by card.

‘We will be reminding people in stores to keep a safe distance from other customers and from our colleagues,’ he said.

Mr Coupe said the number of checkouts will be reduced and screens will be introduced.

Elsewhere, shoppers at Asda have seen changes including markers on the floor to help customers keep two metres apart, barriers, signs and announcements. The supermarket has also asked shoppers to ditch cash in favour of card payments. 

Social distancing markers on the floor of a supermarket in Westminster, where stores are notably quieter as many work from home

Tape marks out 2 metre sections on the floor to implement social distancing measures at the Tesco store in Peterborough

This Sainsbury’s store in Peterborough has placed markings on the floor to make it easier for customers to adhere to the social distancing rules 

Coronavirus UK: New lockdown measures in full

People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following ‘very limited’ purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities as infrequently as possible.

One form of exercise a day.

Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 

Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary. 

Meanwhile, the PM has announced a ban on: 

Meeting with friends. 

Meeting with family members you do not live with. 

All weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals. 

All gatherings of more than two people in public.  

The PM said the police will have the powers to enforce the lockdown measures through fines and dispersing gatherings. 

To ensure people comply the government is also: 

Closing all shops selling non-essential goods. 

Closing all libraries, playground,  outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but will be patrolled.  

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