Marlborough High Street at 3.30 pm yesterday afternoon – Tuesday March 24. A young boy carrying a football, a couple walking purposefully with bags towards Waitrose and a handful of cars – that’s all. It’s as if we’ve time travelled back to the 1950s.
Shops, businesses and residents are obeying the latest Government rule – stay at home. Everywhere is eerily silent and the beautiful weather is at odds with the atmosphere. The Priory Gardens and the children’s playground are closed.
The High Street shops, apart from the butchers, pharmacies, Waitrose, the Post Office, Holland and Barrett, Cook and the bike shop are closed. Some stores, such as Joules and Jigsaw have emptied their shops of all stock.
Kate Howard, from Hedge Rose the florist, told Marlborough.news, “I would have liked to stay open online but my supply chain of flowers has dried up.”
There are rules about entering the shops in order to maintain social distancing. At the butchers only two customers are allowed at a time. At Waitrose the front entrance is shut and customers must enter at the rear. Only 49 are allowed into the shop at a time. Assistants are wiping the trolleys with sanitizer. Only one customer, couple or family unit are allowed in the lift at a time.
The first hour of the day is set aside for vulnerable customers. However, this led to 40 minute queues this morning. “It’s a Catch-22 situation,” a Waitrose Partner told marlborough.news. “There is more stock on the shelves first thing in the morning but there are more people about too.”
However, at 3.30pm Waitrose still had eggs, toilet rolls and paracetamol – so perhaps it’s best to try later in the day and help spread the load of customers throughout the day.
Hayley Lambert at Packaging Not Included is offering a click and collect service and has many stock-cupboard essentials on offer. Click here to visit.
Cook have had to cancel their online ordering as they have been overloaded with requests. When they reopen it they will prioritise orders for the elderly, vulnerable and key workers. The shop is open for two at a time customers 9.30 to 4.30 Monday to Saturday and 11.00 to 3 pm on a Sunday.
The Post Office will be closed today (Wednesday 25 March) due to staff shortages.
Marlborough.news will try to update readers as the crisis continues.