Shopping During the Pandemic

Being in need of some new trainers (the 2 pairs I own are fine for walking the dog, but not much else), I visited TK Maxx with a friend yesterday.

According to this Guardian article, https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/jun/10/shopping-for-clothes-is-about-to-get-weird-heres-how-to-make-it-simpler, one can expect the following when clothes shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Staff wearing masks.
The presence of free hand sanatiser in stores.
A 2 meter social distancing rule,
And any clothes touched by customers quarantined (if not bought) to prevent the spread of the virus.

Being blind, I did my shopping with the assistance of a sighted friend.

Sure enough, on entering the store, we where directed to hand sanatiser which we both used prior to commencing our shopping.

“Are the staff wearing masks?” I enquired?”, as we stood by a clothes rail. “no”, my friend replied.

In England, its compulsory to wear masks/cover one’s face on public transport. However the wearing of face coverings in most other settings (including shops) is voluntary.

Whilst in store, I tried on several pairs of trainers, one of which I purchased, whilst the others where returned to the shelves.

My friend and I both handled clothes and put back those we did not purchase, as there seemed to be no separate place for depositing garments destined for quarantine.

In England, the 2 meter social distancing rule has been reduced to 1 meter plus. This means that 2 meters should still apply when practicality allows, but 1 meter is allowable where 2 meters is impossible or unreasonably difficult (for example in the hospitality industry). TK Max had a 2 meter distancing rule, which customers all seemed to be respecting.

Following our visit to TK Max, we went into a nearby Sainsburys. This was much busier than TK Maxx and I was glad to have my mask on (although just how effective face coverings are is still a matter of debate). Unlike TK Maxx, Sainsburys did not appear to have free hand sanatiser available for their customers use, although its possible that we failed to spot its presence.

Conclusions:

Pre COVID-19, I would, as a blind person enter a shop and take the arm of a member of staff who would conduct me round the store, help in the choosing of items ETC. Whilst under the Equalities Act stores (and other businesses and service providers) have to offer assistance to people who are disabled, just how this will happen during the pandemic is a cause for concern. For example would a member of staff be happy for a visually impaired person such as myself to take their arm? My own view is that with the wearing of a mask and the cleaning of the arm once the assistance has been provided, should greatly reduce the risk of transmission of any infection.

I have no idea what the policy of TK Maxx is as regards guiding, as I was guided by my friend. The store staff where pleasant and helpful and I’ve no negative comments. However I can’t help wondering what my experience would have been like had I gone in alone, with my guide dog or white cane.

The apparent absence of a quarantine pile for unwanted items did not entirely surprise me, as I’m not sure how practical such a policy is. Even where such a policy exists it is, of course dependent on customers remembering to place unwanted items on the quarantine pile.

As for masks, I am not sure how effective they are. I don’t wear them on the street, in parks ETC. However I will wear them in crowded shops. Although they are impractical in settings such as pubs and restaurants.

6 thoughts on “Shopping During the Pandemic

  1. Tony Payne

    When I go shopping, which is more or less just going to Sainsbury’s once a week, at our local store they do have hand sanitisers there for you to wipe down the trolleys and the social distancing measures are pretty good. Not many people who ignore them fortunately.
    I had to go to B&Q last week, and they have one-way signs on the floor on every aisle, with some places blocked off. Trying to find somewhere at the back of the store and then get back to the front again and pay, well it was worse than Hampton Court Maze! It took me 15 minutes to get to where I wanted because I couldn’t see it and everywhere I went was one way and often in the wrong direction. So complicated. I won’t be going there again in a hurry!

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for your comments, Tony. The Sainsburys we entered was one of the superstores (“the size of several football pitches”, as my friend put it), so it’s perfectly possible that we missed the cleaning facilities. Your experience in B and Q reminds me of mine in Ikea many years ago, when a sighted friend and I had great difficulty in finding the way out (and this was well before COVID-19)! All the best, Kevin

      Reply
  2. blindzanygirl

    I am glad that you wrote this Kevin. I am very interested in how blind people go on in various places now. And of course other disabilities too. Although I have not been to church in a long time, I would have loved to have gone when they are allowed to re open, just for the community aspect. However, I will not dare venture there, as, like the shops, they have tape on the floors, which of course I cannott see. I would never be able to keep within the lines with my power chair. No one could guide me, with being in a wheelchair. Notmally I just take my white stick and tap my way along with one hand whilst guiding the wheelchair via the joystick with my other hand. I regularly go wrong and bump into something, plus people do not keep out of my way. They think I can see them! So I have decided against trying it. Both my husband and myself have wondered how I would fare in a shop. So your write up is interesting. Glad you got your trainers Kevin.

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for your comments, Lorraine. I’m pleased you found my post interesting. Have you considered contacting the church, explaining your situation and asking for help? They would (due to the Equalities Act and plus common decency) need to make “reasonable adjustments” to enable you to attend a service. I am due to go to the pub with friends when they reopen on Saturday 4th July, which I’m looking forward to. Best wishes, Kevin

      Reply
      1. blindzanygirl

        Oh wow Kevin. Going to the pub. How wonderful. Can I come too? 😀 I might consider doing what you suggest but am only thinking about it. We have had many painful battles with this church over the Equality Act. So we don’t really want to start that all up again. But it might have been nice to “see” some of my friends. Sadly we don’t have any pub going friends or we would be there like a shot. I hope you have a great evening on July 4th. Kevin.

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