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New government guidance issued for retailers ahead of non-essential store reopenings

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The government has issued fresh guidelines on how retailers can ensure their shops are Covid-19 secure. The guidance is aimed both at those that are already permitted to operate, such as supermarkets, food shops and chemists, and at those that run shops which are currently closed, such as fashion shops and other non-food stores, so that they can prepare their shops for reopening. 

Non-essential shops are likely to be able to start to be reopen from June 1, subject to the coronavirus infection rate being low enough for that to happen safely. However, reopenings will happen in phases, with different types of shops being allowed to reopen at different times. It is not yet set out how those phases will be organised. The Prime Minister has said that garden centres in England will be able to reopen tomorrow. Garden centres are already open in Wales, as of yesterday.

The guidance can be found in full here and it will be regularly updated. 

It covers risk assessments, managing risks, who should work, and social distancing at work. 

Guidance that is specific to retailers includes:


Larger stores should have more entry points and feature a one way flow.

Retailers should limit the number of customers in a store at any point to the number they have defined as able to be in the store with 2m social distancing in place.

Customer services that cannot be carried out while social distancing should be suspended or reduced.

Shoppers should be encouraged to come alone. If they bring children they should be reminded they are responsible for them.

Shopping centres should take responsibility for regulating the number of customers in the centre and the queueing process in communal areas on behalf of retail tenants.

Customer restaurants and cafes should remain closed until further notice. 

Customers should be informed about social distancing and hygiene both through signs, visual aids and by workers inside and outside stores. The latest guidelines should be visible in both selling and non-selling areas.

If it would help, social distancing champions can be created to demonstrate the guidelines to customers.

Self-checkouts, trolleys and staff handheld devices should be cleaned frequently and waste removed frequently. 

Payment methods should be contactless where possible, while supporting documents should be exchanged electronically where possible. 

Guidance should be set around using and cleaning toilets and providing hand sanitiser around the shop.

Changing rooms, where they need to open and can be opened safely, should be frequently cleaned, and clothes that have been tried on should only be returned to the shop floor after a delay. 

Guidance should be available on helping customers who buy large items. 

The “precautionary” use of extra PPE should not be encouraged unless the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very high. In those cases it must be free of charge and fit properly. 

Other face coverings are optional and may protect others from people who have Covid-19 but have not developed symptoms. Employers must advise those who choose to wear one on how to use it safely (full details are here).

Deiiveries, collections and returns

Outbound and in-bound deliveries should be designed to minimise person-to-person contact, and where two-person deliveries or unloading happen, pairs should work together consistently. 

Collection times should be staggered.

No-contact returns processes should be set up. 


Break times should be staggered, and safe outside areas used for those breaks. 

Image: Shutterstock

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