On 23rd March Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be heading into lockdown that would be put into action the following day.
As many made the dash home to be with loved ones during the quarantine, the exceptions for leaving the house were listed as follows:
– Exercise (Alone or with members of your household)
-Shopping for basic necessities
-Medical needs or caring for a vulnerable person
-Traveling to or from work (only if the job can’t be done from home)
Under these circumstances the definition of ‘basic necessities’ seems to be differ from person to person. While many chose to bulk buy eggs, flour, toilet paper and milk others have opted for necessities of their own, with shops seeing a huge rise in the amount of alcohol and cigarettes bought per day.
With alcohol sales soaring by 31.4% in the UK in March it appears many across the UK are choosing to consume alcohol throughout the week rather than the average weekend drink that many enjoyed before the outbreak.
Jane Lloyd, a key worker at a small branch of a UK retailer in Nottingham has said “I’ve noticed over the last week that a lot of people have come in purely for alcohol and cigarettes especially but also scratch cards and other non-necessities, mainly because the pubs are shut and out of complete boredom.”
While the retailer can’t cease sales of some of these products, they have tried to combat repeat customers by taking scratch cards and ‘slush ice drinks’ off sale for the forceable future.
Miss Lloyd went on to say, “I think personally if they are coming out to get other things such as their weekly shopping and also getting non essentials its fine but if they’re making that journey to just get beer, wine or other products as such it’s just not ok or a needed risk.”
Many shoppers defend their actions to leave the house to pick up these items as essentials. One anonymous shopper saying: “ I’m not being funny but I just don’t have the money to stock up on cigarettes and alcohol for god knows how long. Like we are all just gonna get bored sat at home all the time, as long as we socially distance, I don’t see the problem with it I think we are all gonna be fine. I think everyone’s just over reacting.”
With another anonymous shopper going on to targeting the addicting nature of these ‘non-essentials’ that must be kept up with: “Is it unreasonable to risk health and isolation for alcohol and cigarettes? Of course! But addiction is addiction and what some see as essential others may not.”
As the government makes no action to restrict alcohol and tobacco buying, the choice to break isolation for such product still lies with the consumer.
For more information on the restrictions during lockdown and other questions you may have visit GOV.UK