Comment: Stress at the shops as Herts gets set for self-isolation

Anti-bacterial handwash is in short supply UK-wide. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Anti-bacterial handwash is in short supply UK-wide. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

These are trying times, both in and out of the home.

As we stare down the barrel of school, pub and restaurant closures, weeks of self-isolation – months for the over 70s – and more, it’s hard not to feel a little bit stressed.

Amid the prospect of a long stretch under house arrest, many of us are turning to the supermarkets – and finding the shelves are bare.

To stockpile or not to stockpile? I went down the ‘not’ route, then spent most of Saturday afternoon on a failed handwash-buying mission. It was a similar story on the brown bread front, and don’t talk to me about pasta.

A trip to the supermarket to rectify this was intense to say the least. I felt like I’d done a day’s work by the time I left, my trolley loaded with a regular weekly shop, nothing more (but quite a few things less, pasta and handwash being just two).

Having heard stories of people scaling shop fittings and shoving fellow shoppers out of the way to get first dibs on a new stash of anti-bacterial wipes or toilet roll, I probably did well to escape with only a mild case of shopping fatigue. For some elderly shoppers and those with anxiety or special dietary needs, the consequences can be far more serious.

Indeed, in our frantic attempts to get our own houses in order ahead of the dreaded lockdown, some of us have been losing sight of the bigger picture.

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Happily, the same online groups sharing stories of people pilfering penne from others’ baskets, or body-slamming rival shoppers for that last bottle of hand sanitiser are also full of kind folk offering to pick up essentials for needier members of their communities.

Yes, the prospect of being holed up for weeks on end, managing three Google classrooms and countless inevitable arguments while still doing my day job, fills me with dread... but compared to many others I know I’ll have it easy.

So let’s share the pain - and the sanitiser - and give each other a (well-washed) hand.