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WATCH: Tesco chaos as supermarkets open early for NHS staff amid coronavirus outbreak

By Andrew Turton | Dudley | Coronavirus | Published: | Last Updated:

Some shoppers were queuing from 5am amid concerns over further panic buying.

The scene at Tesco in Dudley this morning as hundreds of people queued at the entrance ahead of opening

Hundreds of people faced chaotic scenes as they awaited the opening of a Tesco supermarket in the Black Country today.

Tesco joined Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's and Asda in offering a golden hour for NHS, emergency services and social care workers to shop this morning.

But there were concerns panic buyers would join the queue at doors with the store opening an hour earlier at 9am.

Footage captured showed hundreds of people crowding around the door at the undercover car park entrance ahead of opening.

There were reports of people pushing and shoving just to get inside as they made a dash for high-demand items such as toilet rolls and pasta.

WATCH: Queues outside Tesco in Dudley

Huge queues outside Tesco supermarket in Dudley amid coronvirus chaos

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One emergency service worker, who did not wish to be named, called the queues 'ridiculous' with reports of some people arriving as early as 5am.

Many workers had been busy all week and had not been able to get to supermarkets to shop for essentials, they said.

Tesco security staff worked to manage the queues and were checking work IDs as people were let into the store through the single entrance, said one shopper.

David Potts messaged the Express & Star to say: "My wife, a Tesco employee, and my son's partner, a NHS worker, could not even get into Tesco at Burnt Tree at 9 this morning, even though the hour until 10am was solely for these workers.

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"Apparently panic buyers had been turning up as early as 5am filling the car park, off Birmingham New Road.

"[There were] queues at the entrance, same on other road around the site.

The Tesco Extra at Burnt Tree Island, Dudley

"Why did the store not block access to the site overnight, seems a logical thing to do."

There were similar scenes at the Tesco Extra in New Square Shopping Centre, in West Bromwich.

Staff at the stores were giving away flowers to NHS workers including at Dudley and Cradley Heath stores.

West Midlands Ambulance Service paramedic Ben Pallante tweeted: "Amazing that Tesco provided NHS staff with 30 minutes early shopping time today.

"You enable two paramedics the ability to get some lunch and essentials.

"Massive thank you to Sharon and Brad from the Dudley store for the flowers too, your kindness made our day.

Scenes were much more controlled at Asda in Great Bridge were customers were told to queue 2m apart in the car park. Image: John Kennett

The policy came in 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.

Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, said people should be "ashamed" of themselves for panic buying, and urged people to think of struggling NHS staff.

At Asda at Great Bridge, scenes were more controlled with staff working to managing queues from around 2am today.

Customers were lined up in the car park two metres apart in a queue snaking its way around the outside of the store.

One shopper wearing a face mask in the car park at Asda Great Bridge. Image: John Kennett

Shopper John Kennett tweeted: "Customers at Asda Great Bridge lined up before the store opened at 10 this morning with 2m spacing to help prevent the spread.

"Extra security was brought in and everyone behaved in a controlled manner. The elderly and venerable was let in earlier.

"Trollies being brought back after use showed no signs of the handles being wiped before use again, maybe this is something Asda could consider moving forward having someone outside and taking delivery, antibacterial wipe and going out for re-use?"

Andrew Turton

By Andrew Turton
Digital Journalist

Digital journalist based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Interested in breaking news and social media. Get in touch on Twitter @aturton_star or andrew.turton@expressandstar.co.uk

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