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Thousands queue for hours in sun as Ikea reopens 19 stores

Huge queues at Ikea as branches are allowed to reopen with social distancing

Customers waited for hours to be let in just 10 people at a time (Picture: Getty / PA/ Reuters)

Thousands of people queued in the heat for hours today after 19 Ikea stores reopened across England and Northern Ireland.

The Swedish homeware giant only allowed 10 customers in at a time, with one adult and one child permitted to enter from each household. In some areas, car parks were forced to close to help ease the pressure on staff.

In Tottenham, North London, shoppers began arriving hours before the 10am opening time, with some waiting for nearly four hours before they were finally allowed inside the store. Social distancing ‘wardens’ wearing masks patrolled the area, to make sure people were following the one-way system and keeping two metres apart.

Customer Jack Parkes, 33, from Edmonton, said he queued for two hours before buying a dressing table and some mirrors for his daughter’s room. He continued: ‘People will probably think I’m mad for bothering, but to be honest it’s another reason to leave the house after being told to stay inside for so long.’

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WARRINGTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 01: Customers socially distance themselves as the queue to enter Ikea Warrington. The store opening saw large queues of people and traffic on adjacent roads as it reopened after the pandemic lockdown on June 01, 2020 in Warrington, United Kingdom. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Only 19 branches have reopened (Picture: Getty Images)

READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Customers wait in line for the opening of an Ikea store on June 01, 2020 in Reading, United Kingdom. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Reading opened their doors to eager customers (Picture: Getty Images)

He added that the store had been a ‘clean and safe environment for people to shop in’.

In Belfast, shoppers Samantha Fisher and her daughter Atlanta, from Groomsport, near Bangor, queued from 8am in order to furnish a bedroom which had lain empty for weeks during the coronavirus lockdown. In Warrington, customers began arriving at 5.40am before the store opened at 9am.

Prior to reopening, Ikea bosses warned that current social distancing measures must be obeyed inside their stores and asked that shoppers ‘come prepared with ready-made lists and own bags’.

Customers queuing at the IKEA Tottenham store in Edmonton, north London, as it reopens to the public following the introduction of measures to bring England out of lockdown. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 1, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Customers queue at the Ikea Tottenham store (Picture: PA)

WARRINGTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 01: Customers socially distance themselves as they queue to enter Ikea Warrington. The store opening saw large queues of people and traffic on adjacent roads as it reopened after the pandemic lockdown on June 01, 2020 in Warrington, United Kingdom. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Staff ensured that shoppers kept to social distancing restrictions (Picture: PA)

People queuing at the Ikea store in Lakeside, Thurrock, Essex, which has reopened as part of a wider easing of lockdown restrictions in England. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday June 1, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

People queuing at the Ikea store in Lakeside (Picture: PA)

Those ‘purely wishing to browse’ were also advised to visit the stores in the ‘coming weeks’ in bid to shorten lengthy waiting times.

Play areas and restaurants are not yet open again to the public, but the company’s infamous meatballs can be bought to cook at home.

Click and collect facilities are also opening in a phased approach in line with government guidelines, with Ikea saying this will depend on which UK region stores are in.

Extra hand sanitiser and more deep cleans of bags, trolleys, bathrooms, equipment and touchscreens will take place, while cash will not be accepted at any tills.

WARRINGTON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 01: Customers socially distance themselves as the queue to enter Ikea Warrington. The store opening saw large queues of people and traffic on adjacent roads as it reopened after the pandemic lockdown on June 01, 2020 in Warrington, United Kingdom. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

It was a long wait to get inside in Warrington (Picture: Getty Images)

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Customers queue at IKEA, Nottingham before it reopens following closure on June 01, 2020 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The British government further relaxed Covid-19 quarantine measures in England this week, allowing groups of six people from different households to meet in parks and gardens, subject to social distancing rules. Many schools also reopened and vulnerable people who are shielding in their homes are allowed to go outside again. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The stores are not accepting cash at the moment (Picture: Getty Images)



Which Ikea branches are open?

Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.

Customers should also avoid travelling to stores just to process refunds, as the company has a 365-day returns policy.

An Ikea spokesperson said: ‘The health and safety of our customers and co-workers remains our top priority, which is why we put extensive and enhanced measures in place to create a safe and comfortable experience.’

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