Non-essential shops are set to reopen

The government is allowing non-essential shops to reopen from 15 June to #KeepBritainWorking – only those who show they can keep customers and employees safe will be allowed to reopen.

The advice in this blog is based on government guidance on how to create a safe environment for your employees and customers when the sector reopens.

What can you do for your retail business?

Risk assessment – all businesses must pass a risk assessment before they will be allowed to reopen. The government expects “all businesses with more than 50 employees” to share the results of the risk assessment with their employees. It states the result should be posted on your website or displayed in your workplace.

Hygiene – give your store a thorough clean and disinfect the products and shop floor before you reopen, if you can. Provide hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities at the door for each customer to use before they enter. Use contactless payment or have a system where your staff aren’t touching money.

PPE – allow your workers to wear masks if they have them, or if they would feel more comfortable. It would be best to implement a rule that says all shoppers must be wearing a mask, but they are hard to come by right now. Many stores have used screens to protect their till staff – this can replace visors, which are prioritised for doctors and nurses.

Social distancing – this will of course be required, just as it is in shops which have not been closed due to coronavirus. This can include a one in one out policy (depending on the size of your shop), limiting the number of customers, and only letting one person in per household to avoid unnecessary crowding.

Keep in mind that your staff need to be distancing as well, so limit the number of people working into multiple shifts to avoid staff working in close proximity, and have designated areas for each team member to work. Official advice proposes fixed teams or partnering, to reduce the contact each worker has with others.

Layout – part of social distancing is to review your shop floor plan and create a one-way flow system for customers to follow using floor markings and adequate signage. This allows people to predict where others will go next and maintain their distance – as many essential shops have already done.

If you have more than one entry point, ensure you use it to prevent congestion near the doors. Of course, as most shops are already doing, use any outside space you have for a distanced queue outside the building.

Communication – any customer service assistant that needs support on tills or the shop floor is encouraged to use a radio to ask questions rather than approach others. While you can speak from a two-metre distance, if you need to speak louder above noise then you also need to be further away from each other.

Shouting can cause particles in the droplets in your breath (which could contain coronavirus) to spread further away, more quickly. Government guidance suggests “back-to-back or side-to-side working rather than face-to-face whenever possible”, to minimise the risk of infecting each other, as people who are asymptomatic can still spread the virus.

Considerations for staff – if you can, try to encourage driving to work with more parking spaces or solutions such as discounts on parking – or bike racks to encourage any type of travel other than public transport. You could also provide your workers with packaged meals and drinks instead of opening staff canteens.

These measures may limit the custom you receive, but it’s the first step in the right direction which will add to your revenue. The government guidance on the reopening of the retail sector has more information on how to keep your customers and workers safe, and your business running.

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