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How to Keep Staff & Customers Safe When Your Shop Reopens

22 Feb 2021

Many non-essential retailers have been able to trade in the UK via Click and Collect, but some require in-person business to stay profitable. The Government's reopening plan will allow all retailers to open for in-store traffic sometime after April 12th, 2021.

For many store owners, the hardest part of reopening in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown will be implementing the necessary measures to keep customers and staff safe.

This guide will be frequently updated to reflect the latest government advice, as well as measures and initiatives we've seen from our own retail customers. Read on to discover our 5 essential steps for managing your store under social distancing measures.

Keeping your Staff & Customers Safe when your Shop Reopens

1) Complete a Risk Assessment

As an employer, it’s your legal obligation to ensure the safety of your employees and customers in your place of business, irrespective of whether we’re in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. But during the COVID-19 outbreak, the risk is exponentially greater, not least because the threat is invisible. This means you need to be extra vigilant when completing your risk assessment.

There are tools on the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) website which will help you complete this.

Once you’ve completed your risk assessment, you should share this information with your employees and educate them on what it means. It’s also advised that you display the official COVID secure poster in all employee spaces such as staff rooms.

2) Who Should go to Work?

The government suggests that even when you reopen, you should limit the amount of staff on your premises at any one time by only having essential employees working from your location.

What this means is if your back office staff - like administrative, accounts and marketing personnel - can feasibly work from home, they should do so.

You should also look at your employees’ medical declarations to identify any members of staff in the high-risk categories and ensure that they do not return to work. This should be done alongside consulting all of your employees about any anxiety they have about returning.

3) Social Distancing in your Shop

The government has set out advice and guidelines for how to keep employees and customers safe by minimising contact, which we have already seen implemented by major supermarket chains.

The government recommends you practice the following guidelines:

  • Increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
  • Minimise the amount of time customers are in contact with staff
  • Encourage customers to wear face masks at all times while inside your store (although it is not the responsibility of retailers to enforce the rule)
  • Use screens or barriers to separate people
  • Introduce 2m floor markers inside your shop and on the pavement outside
  • Limit the number of customers in your shop at any one time
  • Store returned items for 72 hours before placing them back on the shelves
  • Encourage customers to shop alone where possible

It would be advisable to have signage inside and outside your shop to explain to customers any social distancing measures you have implemented.

4) Keeping your Shop Sanitary

Before you reopen, it’s advisable to complete a full assessment of areas of risk that may need to continuously be cleaned on a regular basis. This should follow a deep clean of your premises before you’re due to open.

Keeping clean will require you to:

  • Wipe down surfaces, equipment and devices between uses
  • Antibacterial wipes available for customers to wipe trolleys & baskets
  • Hand sanitizer available for customers and staff
  • Staff and customers should be encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed areas

These four key objectives are part of the government’s wider advice in how to operate your shop both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can find further information on the official government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches