// Tesco to limit items to three per person as part of new move to prevent panic-buying
// All counter services will also be closed to focus more on stocking shelves
// Lewis said healthy shoppers are encouraged to come to stores to free up online capacity
Tesco has introduced a three per person limit on all items in a bid to counteract coronavirus-linked stockpiling.
In a letter to staff, chief executive Dave Lewis wrote that all counter services will be closed to focus on stocking shelves, and the first hour of the day – 9am to 10am – is now reserved for the elderly and vulnerable.
The Big 4 grocer’s new rationing rules widen the scope of restrictions that had previously been implemented on a small number of items such as toilet roll and hand sanitiser.
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Lewis said Tesco will encourage healthy shoppers to come to stores and free up online capacity.
“It is fair to say that we find ourselves in uncharted waters,” Lewis said.
“Covid-19 is bringing a change to the UK and it’s clear that lots of things are going to have to shift around in order to help us cope.”
A Tesco spokesperson added: “We are changing these store hours to ensure we can serve customers better at this time.
“It gives our colleagues the time overnight to restock the store, replenish the shelves and support our online grocery service at a time when demand is high.”
Over at rival Sainsbury’s, a cap of two is being imposed on the most in-demand items, such as toilet roll, soap and UHT milk.
Meat, fish and pizza counters and cafés are closed to free up lorry and warehouse capacity.
Asda has also announced it is restricting all customers to buying up to three items on all food, toiletries and cleaning products amid a surge in demand.
On Tuesday, Tesco announced that hundreds of its 24-hour stores had their opening hours reduced in a bid to manage any disruption caused by the outbreak.
Bosses decided to close all 24-hour stores at 10pm, reopening at 6am on Wednesday morning.
They will continue to open between 6am and 10pm for the immediate future.