Supermarkets will be provided with access to government databases to help prioritise deliveries to elderly and vulnerable customers.

In a call between grocery bosses and environment secretary George Eustice earlier this week, options to ramp up the number of online deliveries available to ensure orders by vulnerable shoppers were fulfilled promptly was discussed.

Alongside gaining access to government data to help prioritise food deliveries to people told to stay home under the government’s coronavirus guidelines, supermarket bosses also discussed ways to extend their delivery networks such as collaborating with local taxi companies and takeaway delivery firms.

Online delivery slots for grocery orders from major UK grocers are booked up for weeks at a time amid intense pressure from shoppers, who have been advised by the government not to leave their homes for any purchases except essentials and to prioritise online deliveries where they can.

This is the latest move by the UK government and grocers to prioritise deliveries for the UK’s most vulnerable shoppers amid the coronavirus outbreak. Yesterday, Tesco boss Dave Lewis urged younger shoppers to come to stores to buy essentials, leaving online delivery slots for those unable to leave their homes.

Lewis said Tesco was “at full capacity for the next few weeks and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, instead of shopping online, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable”.

Sainsbury’s has also been using information from its Nectar loyalty scheme to try to prioritise older shoppers online and has been proactively contacting 270,000 people.

According to The Guardian, the government is also teaming up with foodservice providers Brakes and Bidfood to compile an emergency food parcel scheme that could provide essentials to up to 300,000 of the 1.5 million people identified as most in need of assistance.

The scheme could launch as early as next week and will connect the foodservice providers with local volunteers and charities.