With the world getting used to the ‘new normal’ of socially distancing, washing hands regularly, and wearing facemasks, we enter into a new stage of the pandemic by living alongside the virus as opposed to hiding in our homes. We have been told and encouraged to get along with our daily lives as much as we can, whilst trying to prevent the virus from spreading, in order to ensure that there is a falling death rate. Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is hardly surprising that businesses and individuals alike are finding it difficult to know what rules they need to abide by, and how they can go about this.

In particular, retail businesses – if they managed to survive their closure over the period of serious lockdown – have been trying to figure out how to keep their employees safe from the crowds of shoppers that have been hitting the stores since lockdown measures were eased to open the economy back up. Considering that a lot of retail stores had been closed for a while, it can be overwhelming for them as they face the decision of how best to ensure that their staff and their customers are protected as much as possible from contracting COVID-19. We’ve gathered some top tips, using online scientific and medical recommendations, to help retailers with any risk assessments and to put the necessary precautions in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Cover Up

Wearing a face mask is a mandatory requirement in most places now, and if it isn’t for your retail store, you should think about putting this in place so that your customers cannot pass on the virus to other employees and customers. Even if a customer has not shown any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, you cannot guarantee that they are not carrying the virus. By wearing a mask, their saliva and bodily fluids cannot escape from their nose or mouth, which reduces the risk of the virus spreading to other people visiting or working in your store.

You could consider purchasing visors for employees working in your store so that customers can still see and hear the member of staff that is serving them. However, there are many different face masks available on the market that visibly cover the nose and mouth, but do not actually muffle an individual’s voice. A closed face mask has been proven to have a high chance of preventing any bodily fluids from escaping the face area. If you want to know more, you might want to read Sonavia Tech’s N95 comparison chart. As a provider of face masks themselves, Sonavia Tech has the knowledge to create this comparison chart accurately. They help to explain the various masks available on the market to allow you to make an informed choice on the most suitable product for you and your needs as a retailer.

Keeping Clean

This may seem obvious, but regularly cleaning and wiping down surfaces with diluted bleach or disinfectant will help to ensure that whatever germs are brought into the store, by customers and even employees, are killed. Any employees cleaning these surfaces should wear a mask, be equipped with disposable gloves and a disposable cloth. This means that after cleaning, any items that have potentially touched coronavirus droplets will be disposed of and will not cross-contaminate other areas of the store. The main surfaces that need to be paid particular attention are door or drawer handles, till screens, card payment pin machines, products (where possible) and product shelves. If it is not possible to clean the products, you should create signs that inform customers not to touch any products that they do not intend to purchase.

Additionally, if a product has been touched and opened, or you receive any items that have been returned by a customer, you should isolate these products in a ‘quarantine’ area of the store for at least 24 hours. This will ensure that any products that have been infected with the virus are no longer carriers with the potential to spread the virus to anyone that touches the product. Giving employees strict instructions on these policies and devising a database system to log which products entered ‘quarantine’ and when they can be removed will ensure that this system runs smoothly.

Keeping a Distance

To ensure that customers stick to at least one meter distance from each other, as recommended by the WHO, you should limit the number of customers in your store. If you already know the maximum customer capacity of your store, consider allowing a ¼ of the usual number of customers into the store. This will help to ensure that there are fewer customers coming into the store at any one time and minimizes the chance for customers to outnumber your members of staff, who will need to keep a close eye on where customers are touching or handling products. It also means that customers are not forced to be in close proximity to one another, as fewer customers will mean that there is enough space to spread out. You may need to organize a way for customers to queue up outside the store, with one-meter markers on the floor to indicate where the queue should stand socially distanced.

Creating a one-way system, with signs and labels indicating the direction for customers to walk in. This will mean that there are no places in the store where customers are next to each other and breaching their one-meter distance. This is particularly important if your store is small and there is not enough room for two people to pass each other at a meter distance. It will help to protect your employees from customers approaching them too closely, as they might have done in the past to ask for help, before the pandemic!

At tills and point of sale areas, installing plastic screens to create a physical barrier separating the customers and staff members means that there is no chance whatsoever that either party will lean over or come in close contact with each other, even in situations where a payment needs to be made using cash or card. Signs can also remind both customers and employees to stick to their designated areas and ensure that nearby customers do not come within one meter of the other customer when queuing or paying for their purchases. If you are able to afford new till systems that allow the customer to scan their products and checkout by themselves, this will further minimize the contact that employees have with customers. However, employees will still need to ensure that this screen and self-scanning till surface is cleaned on a regular basis.

Although a lot of this advice concentrates on preventing the virus from spreading amongst customers, by protecting your customers from contracting the virus from each other, you are actually helping to protect your employees, too, as they are the ones who will be working in the environment where customers shop. Protecting your customers and your employees goes hand in hand, just as educating your employees on keeping themselves protected against COVID-19 will help keep your customers healthy too.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 828 other subscribers.

Follow us on Twitter