All hands to the pump

The petrol station at Jempson's supermarket, Peasmarsh.

Rye News received an anonymous notification from an avid reader which, unlike many commentators at the moment was not making reference to motorbikes, noise, traffic or parking problems, but alerting us all about the need to use a bit of common sense when filling up with fuel in order to keep us all safer.

And she is in the ‘seriously at risk’ category during the pandemic and wanted to share her concerns with our readers.

I usually fill up my car at Jempson’s in Peasmarsh as it is generally the cheapest fuel in the area and nearer than travelling to a major supermarket where it might be a couple of pence cheaper per litre but, by the time you’ve driven there, the cost of getting there far outweighs any saving – and ‘keep it local’ in this instance works.

Our reader was very concerned at the risk of the virus being passed on by customers using the pumps with bare hands and, even when she tried to help a fellow customer by offering her hand gel to put on her bare hands after using the pump, her help was rejected as if she was interfering!

When I went to fill up on Saturday, whilst waiting for a pump to become free I just watched for a few minutes – quite an eye opener, but worth sharing. The man in front of me went to great pains to use one of the transparent plastic gloves which he donned before touching the pump, after filling up he took the glove off and put it in the bin, then used his bare hands to open the door, pay, then opened the door again before getting in his car and driving off.

What was the point of protecting himself (and others) at the pump and then undoing all his good work before potentially spreading the virus he might have contracted by touching the unprotected doors?

Is it Jempson’s responsibility to clean every pump handle after each use? Should they be providing hand sanitiser at the pumps, and should they have someone on the doors to open and close then for all the customers? The staff had gloves on when I visited and there was a protective Perspex screen at the tills and two metre markers on the floor – but should they have done more?

Or is it time we all used a bit of common sense? Gloves and paper towels were available when I filled up, and surely the answer is to put the free gloves on, fill up, keep them on whilst paying and leaving the shop then deposit them in the bins provided when you leave.

Alternatively, why not carry a supply of disposable gloves in the car, or at least one of those miniature hand sanitiser dispensers which are available in Boots (and other leading high street shops I suspect now) and why not carry a mask as well, just in case?

Isn’t the onus on us to protect ourselves and others by taking reasonable precautions to contain or halt the potential of this virus spreading further unnecessarily? Our reader was right to be concerned, despite the daily messages being bludgeoned into us about how we need to:

  • wash our hands
  • stay safe
  • physically distance
  • take reasonable precautions to contain the virus as it seems the message is not getting through to some of us

Yes, the shopkeepers and businesses must do their bit to protect us, but we must also share the responsibility, and make an effort to stay safe.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .


  1. My current re-fuelling regime is to use only stations with a ‘pay at pump’ facility. I pull up to the pump with my payment card already in my top pocket, sanitiser to hand in the car and leave the key in the ignition with the driver’s door open. I open the fuel cap, pay and re-fuel then reach in and use the sanitiser. I then replace the fuel cap, get in my car and drive off – thereby avoiding touching any part of my car (save for the sanitiser bottle!) after I have used the pump.

  2. Yes, this is quite common. Always wear gloves when filling up and use sanitiser – hundreds of people could use the same pump at busy petrol stations. Another tip – always wear gloves/use sanitiser when pulling your bins in after collection – bin men told me this – they touch hundreds of bins a day. They need a pay rise – doing a great job

  3. Perhaps he didn’t want to contaminate the door handle with the gloves that he used to touch the pump nozzle. It’s a shame people aren’t using sanitiser between touching things. When the weather is ok, I think a wedged open door is safer than everyone having to touch the same handle.

  4. It makes more sense to use one glove and think of this as your ‘dirty hand’ with which you touch anything that is also touched by other customers – petrol pump, door handles etc. Think of your ungloved hand as your ‘clean hand’ and only touch your own personal items – car key, credit card etc. This way it is much less likely that you will contaminate your personal items.


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