John Lewis has suspended click-and-collect services at its department stores in the latest tightening of rules for shoppers as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.
The department store chain said it was responding to a “clear change in tone and emphasis” from governments across the UK urging the public to stay at home.
It came as all four of Britain’s supermarket chains said they would deny entry to customers not wearing face coverings unless they had a medical excuse.
Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda – which unlike non-essential retailers have remained open throughout the pandemic – set out their rules after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi expressed concerns about the behaviour of store customers.
Two other supermarkets, Aldi and Waitrose – the latter which is part of the John Lewis Partnership that also owns the John Lewis department stores – also said they would enforce the policy.
Meanwhile Kingfisher, owner of DIY chain B&Q, revealed that while stores remain open as it is classed as an essential retailer, it has had to close its kitchen and bathroom showrooms.
Last week, Topps Tiles said it had been advised to close its tile aisles to prevent browsing under tightened restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In its latest update on Tuesday, John Lewis Partnership (JLP) said it was “conscious of the increased need to remove reasons for non-essential travel during the current lockdown”.
Click-and-collect orders from department stores were being “switched off to new orders” from the close of business on Tuesday, the company said.
However click-and-collect will still be available from sister retailer Waitrose.
JLP also said new bookings for in-home services such as appliance installation and bathroom fittings would be paused when “not essential to the health and wellbeing of customers and their families”.
At Waitrose, it will station marshals at entrances with disposable masks available to anyone who has not brought their own.
Admission will be denied to anyone refusing to comply and marshals will also ensure that only one member of each household is allowed to shop.
Meanwhile, staff at the supermarket will have to wear face coverings even when behind protective screens or when working at the back of the store away from customers, in addition to the areas where the rule currently applies.
Andrew Murphy, executive director of operations at JLP, said: “We are acutely aware that the country is at a critical point in the pandemic.
“We’ve listened carefully to the clear change in tone and emphasis of the views and information shared by the UK’s governments in recent days.
“While we recognise that the detail of formal guidance has not changed, we feel it is right for us – and in the best interests of our partners and customers – to take proactive steps to further enhance our covid-security and related operational policies.”