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COVID Proofing Your Retail / Restaurant Business

6th November 2020
Reading Time
9 minutes

Help Protect Staff and Customers with Perspex Barriers

The novel coronavirus is known to travel on the air in indoor environments suspended in particles called aerosols. Although all staff and shoppers are now expected to wear face masks, they do not entirely prevent viral particles from escaping on people’s breath and becoming airborne. You should give your staff working at the counters and tills the added protection of a physical barrier to stop aerosols from directly drifting from customers’ breath into their air space.

Perspex barriers are cheap, lightweight and entirely see-through, and so they make an ideal physical barrier to arrest the drift of potentially infectious aerosols into your staff’s airspace.

Set Strict Social Distancing Rules

It is recommended to enforce a distance of two metres or more between shoppers in your store. This is more difficult for small shops to achieve than it is for spacious supermarkets and warehouse-type stores. You may have to employ someone on the door to limit the number of shoppers circulating in your small shop at any one time, adopting a one-out, one-in policy while smiling at the customers patiently queuing for their turn.

Large groups should be discouraged from entering your shop together even if they appear likely to come from the same household. They will be taking up space at the expense of other customers, so ask your door monitor to suggest to them that just one or at most two of them come in to do the shopping for everyone while the others wait outside. You can of course make exceptions for sole parents or guardians in charge of two or more small children who would not be safe if left outside.

Set Up a Cleaning Station

To maintain standards of hygiene in your shop, it’s highly advisable to provide facilities for the cleansing of hands with anti-viral, anti-bacterial liquid cleanser before shoppers even touch the baskets and trolleys they may use to shop with, or any actual goods.

Although conscientious shoppers should have washed their hands before setting out on their journey to your shop, they may have touched their front doors, keys and wallets since then, and possibly filthy pedestrian crossing buttons too. You don’t want any viral material from such sources of potential contamination to enter your shop and infect your staff or other shoppers, so install a cleaning station at the door, and encourage shoppers to use it before they touch anything inside, including baskets and trolleys.

Make People Aware That You Are Open

During these uncertain times, many shoppers may simply assume that your shop is likely to be closed and overlook it in favour of online shopping, unless told otherwise. So if your shop is open, shout it loud and clear! Make use of customer mailing lists and your website if you have one to advertise your current opening hours, and place a large ‘OPEN’ sign outside your physical shop and a further, similar notice in bold lettering right on your shop window. This will help to get the word out and attract people inside.

Stay Up To Date With The News

The rules and regulations relating to trading during the pandemic are in a constant state of flux, both regionally and nationally. It’s important to check the news in your region at least once an evening for any announcements that could be relevant to how you do business the following day, and allow you to plan for upcoming changes in the weeks ahead.

Switch To Card Payments

The coins and plastic used as cash change hands frequently and tend to be filthy reservoirs for bacteria and viruses. You should consider disallowing payment in cash for the duration of the pandemic. Nearly all customers nowadays have bank accounts with plastic cards that can be inserted into machines by customers without your staff having to touch them at all. What’s more, nearly all plastic payment cards can nowadays make contactless payments for purchases under a certain value, which is the most hygienic payment option currently available to customers and should be encouraged.

Allocate Individual Work Areas for Staff

Shop staff tend to be busy bees, ferreting around from one job to the next as required, while completely focused on stock, customers or back-office work as applicable. Left to their own devices, they are likely to pass close by each other frequently throughout the day. But in pandemic times, this should be discouraged. If a single member of staff is silently harbouring an infection, you don’t want it to be passed on to any of the others. So, appoint all your staff their own designated work space without overlap as far as possible, and where that is impossible, instruct them to be extra-vigilant about keeping up their social distancing from each other.

Ensure Hygiene Within Your Store

Encouraging shoppers to clean their hands is all very well as far as it goes, but you should also be vigilant about keeping all surfaces and products in your shop clean.

If the main entrance door to your shop does not open and close automatically without requiring pushing or pulling, then your door may also be a source of infection, so if you cannot leave it open all the time, e.g. because of cold weather in the winter, then at least be sure to clean it regularly on both sides and ensure that the cleaning station is available on the inside after people have pushed it to enter.

Tills, keys and security fobs used by staff should all be regularly cleaned, and it’s essential that staff handling stock for sale should have scrupulously clean hands before they begin to move it to or within the shelves.

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