Sainsbury’s is following other supermarket chains and introducing a golden shopping hour for NHS and social care workers.
From next week health and care staff will be able to shop at Sainsburys between 8am and 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, alongside elderly and vulnerable shoppers.
It comes after critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough, from York, made a heartfelt plea for shoppers to stop stockpiling, in a video which circulated on social media on Thursday.
In the video, she is seen crying after visiting a supermarket following a 48-hour hospital shift to find there were no fruit or vegetables.
As thousands of customers stockpiled on products in a panic-buying frenzy, many were left facing empty shelves at the supermarkets.
Tesco and Marks & Spencer have already announced they are giving health and social care workers priority shopping times.
Sainsbury’s is also consolidating its opening hours from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, in order to be able focus on restocking shelves.
Sunday opening, Sainsbury’s Local and petrol station opening times will stay the same.
“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all our supermarkets will dedicate 8am to 9am to serving elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and social care workers,” chief executive Mike Coupe said.
“They will just need to show us their pass or ID when they visit.”
Mr Coupe said Sainsbury’s would continue to pay all staff who are unwell or need to self-isolate for 14 days.
“We have also committed to paying vulnerable and elderly colleagues in full if the Government decides they should isolate for 12 weeks,” Mr Coupe said.
“We hope this will go some way to helping our teams through this uncertain time and we are looking at other ways to thank our colleagues for their extraordinary efforts.”
He also urged customers to take simple measures to reduce risk by standing one metre away from each other and consider paying with card instead of cash.
“Please also treat our colleagues and other customers with kindness and respect,” he said.
“These are unprecedented circumstances and our colleagues are being asked to come to work every day while so many others are being asked to stay at home.
“We all need them to keep coming to work to feed the nation – a small thank you goes a really long way.”