Shoppers will have to follow strict guidelines when high street stores reopen – including being asked to shop alone or to buy new clothes without trying them on.
In a raft of recommendations drawn up ahead of a highly anticipated lifting of the lockdown, retail bosses have been advised to consider closing or restricting access to toilets and changing rooms, restrict the number of shoppers and limit or remove customer seating.
The report, published today by retail trade body the British Retail Consortium, also advises shops to keep cafes and restaurants closed until further notice, erect barriers such as plastic screens at tills and consider using one-way systems around stores to maintain social distancing.
Above, an employee from Trade Point disinfects shopping trolleys outside its north London branch. Recommendations may see cleaning stations installed to provide hand sanitiser and other hygiene equipment; and self-checkout tills, door handles, lift buttons and handrails will be cleaned regularly
Above, a senior citizen gets the last pack of toilet rolls at Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Northwich, amid the coronavirus lockdown
In other measures being considered, separate entrances and exits could be used; doors could be kept open where possible; paying by cash will be discouraged; cleaning stations could be installed to provide hand sanitiser and other hygiene equipment; and self-checkout tills, door handles, lift buttons and handrails will be cleaned regularly.
The seven-page document, endorsed by shop workers trade union Usdaw, has been released amid growing speculation over the timing of the Government signalling a reopening of shops.
The latest coronavirus casualty figures made grim reading as deaths passed 20,000. But there are hopes that in the coming weeks the Government could signal a gradual reawakening of the economy.
The Mail on Sunday reveals today that department store giant John Lewis is drawing up a blueprint for a phased reopening programme which bosses say could be ready to activate by the middle of next month.
John Lewis Partnership director of operations Andrew Murphy, who also oversees Waitrose, said it would take up to six weeks to implement and would only be initiated in strict cooperation with Government and health officials.
Other shops including B&Q and Homebase have begun opening stores. Homebase opened 20 yesterday and said it will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss rolling out the plan to more of its 158 shops.
Under the new guidelines, shops have been asked to consider closing changing rooms or maintain a staff presence to monitor social distancing, and to consider whether it is safe to keep customer toilets open or whether they should be open on request
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: ‘Retailers are closely following developments from the Government on when restrictions might be eased and are starting to plan accordingly.
‘Since the lockdown, many retailers have proved how shops can be run safely and effectively in line with the Government’s social distancing advice. This guidance is the product of retail’s incredible efforts to adapt to exceptional circumstances.’
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: ‘Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees. However, we need to be ready and we need to make sure that the proper preparations and measures are put in place.’
The British Retail Consortium has advised shops to remove promotional fixtures to allow shoppers to move more freely, position staff to advise customers of the etiquette, limit the number of people using lifts and to use barriers to restrict the length of queues.
Under the new guidelines, shops have been asked to consider closing changing rooms or maintain a staff presence to monitor social distancing, and to consider whether it is safe to keep customer toilets open or whether they should be open on request.
The BRC suggests firms calculate the area of each store and limit the number of customers accordingly, based on the 2m (6ft 6ins) social distancing rules.
They have also been told to remove promotional fixtures to allow shoppers to move more freely, position staff to advise customers of the etiquette, limit the number of people using lifts and to use barriers to restrict the length of queues.
Store managers have also been told to ‘consider what steps will be taken by managers and staff where customers are not following social distancing measures’.
One store boss said there was little choice but to implement the draconian measures, but added: ‘How can you go clothes shopping without trying on clothes?’