Major supermarkets in Northern Ireland are to allocate priority online delivery slots to those advised to shield by their GPs.
Communities minister Deirdre Hargey said Asda, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have confirmed they will give a proportion of the available services to people in the vulnerable group.
Almost 80,000 people in Northern Ireland have been contacted by doctors urging them to self-isolate to protect themselves from Covid-19, which means they should not go out for exercise or shopping.
Ms Hargey said: “This is a very challenging time for all of us.
“I am therefore delighted that my department has worked with colleagues in the Health and Social Care Board to put a system in place to help those people secure a prioritised online delivery slot with Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Iceland.”
To register interest, people must complete a short online form on NI Direct that will ask them to confirm if their GP has advised them to self-isolate, plus their name, address and email, and that they agree to share their data.
The department will then check eligibility and share details with the four retailers. The retailers will contact customers directly to advise on what delivery slots are available.
Health minister Robin Swann said: “This is a worrying time for everyone and even more so for those who have been advised to shield.
“This collaboration between the Department for Communities, the HSCB and retailers will provide peace of mind to our most vulnerable, knowing that they have access to this essential service and will be able to get the food that they need, delivered straight to their home.
“Finding a solution that was safe and secure was a huge undertaking and I am grateful to all those who have worked hard to make this happen.”