Elderly people wait for a Sainsburys supermarket in Hertford to open as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Hertford, Britain, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

Sainsbury’s said on Wednesday it will temporarily close 12 convenience stores at locations experiencing extremely low shopper numbers during the coronavirus outbreak, such as at railway stations.

“These are stores that have seen significantly fewer customers in recent days as people are working from home,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman.

“All colleagues will move to neighbouring stores until these stores re-open,” she added.

‘Nobody will starve’

The chairman of online supermarket Ocado said there was no shortage of food in the country and “nobody will starve” during the emergency.

Britain’s supermarket sector is facing unprecedented demand during the outbreak as consumers stock-up fearing a prolonged period of isolation, while schools, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been forced to close.

“The first thing is ‘don’t panic’. There isn’t going to be no food tomorrow,” Stuart Rose told BBC radio.

Rose, a former boss of Marks & Spencer, contracted the virus. Having been in self-isolation he ventured out to the supermarket for the first time in two weeks on Wednesday.

He said Britons should avoid going to supermarkets at peak hours and only buy what they need.

He called on the country to “make your meals work”.

“If you buy a chicken, roast the chicken, have the roast chicken dinner, the following day turn it into a stir fry, the following day make it into soup,” he said.

“You can make a relatively small amount of food go a long way and I think we live in a very profligate society today – we buy too much, we eat too much and we have to learn new ways.”

Ocado has been operating at capacity during the crisis. It said on Tuesday it had around ten times more demand for its services than it did before the outbreak began.