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Woman voices concerns over coronavirus restrictions for disabled and vulnerable people when they shop

todayJanuary 21, 2021 4

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A West Norfolk woman has spoken out at the added problems coronavirus restrictions are causing disabled people when they shop.

Elizabeth Simmonds, from near Downham, cited the situation at the Tesco store on Hardwick – particularly the entry and exit points which are making life uncomfortable for the vulnerable and those with disabilities.

Miss Simmonds said: “No thought has been given to those who are disabled either physically, mentally or hidden.

Tesco Extra on the Hardwick Industrial Estate.
Tesco Extra on the Hardwick Industrial Estate.

“Since the store started to police customers and ask them to go in one door and leave through another, those with disabilities now have further to go to get to the exit and their cars.

“The disability spaces are designed to give those with wheelchairs or walking aids more room and less of a distance to travel.

“We are now being funnelled out of a smaller exit where more people are closer together when leaving the building.

“Those who do have disabilities or are vulnerable are also near others at the taxi pick-up because staff refuse to allow them to leave out of what used to be a two-way exit.”

Miss Simmonds, who suffers with a disability along with her 15-year-old son, says that they both wear masks to remain safe, as per the rules, but very little consideration is given to them in general.

“My son can’t be left in the car alone due to his condition and his anxiety goes through the roof so we have to go in together,” she said.

“On our last visit, the flickering lights caused him to become very unsettled and we were forced to abort our trip early.

“We had to walk past other shoppers because the only way to exit was through a till. When we finally got out there were in excess of 12 people smoking and it triggered an asthma attack.”

Miss Simmonds has written to the store about her concerns and when approached by us, a Tesco spokesperson said: “Everyone is welcome at Tesco, and we have measures in place to ensure that all our colleagues and customers with disabilities feel safe and at ease shopping with us.

“If any customer needs assistance when shopping then our colleagues at King’s Lynn Extra are happy to help.

“Our current social distancing measures in store, including our separate entrance and exits, were designed with the needs of all customers in mind and following guidance from Public Health England.”

Tesco added: “Colleagues at our King’s Lynn Extra are not aware of any customers having difficulty with the separate entrance and exits at the store but are happy to offer help if required.

“Customers with additional needs can ask for help from colleagues in our car parks and inside our stores.

“Our social distancing measures in store have all been designed so that they don’t impede disabled customers.”

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