The recent announcement that face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets across England, Scotland and Ireland should certainly help to protect shoppers.
The importance of wearing face coverings is as much to protect others and prevent the spread of the virus than it is to protect the person wearing them. The onus is now on the general public to follow the rules, as staff in shops face the problem of enforcing them. Police will have the power to fine people up to £100 if they do not comply.
Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon has openly spoken about her expectations of Scottish citizens, saying that she doesn’t want people to wait until rules are enforced before they start to wear face coverings when they leave the house. She believes people should start to get into the habit straight away.
Yet face coverings are not the only step that retailers are taking to help lower infection rates as lockdown measures begin to ease. So, what else is being done by retailers to ensure the safety of their customers? And how will the new ‘normal’ look in terms of our shopping trips?
Social Distancing – Shoppers must stick to the social distancing guidelines of staying two metres apart, which is being clearly marked with tape on the floor in all shops. There will be extra staff on board to help with this and often a one in one out system at the door. One-way systems will be used in shops where aisle space is more limited.
Hand Sanitiser – Most stores require you to use their hand sanitiser as you enter the building and the bigger shops have stations dotted throughout for you to use should you feel the need to do so while you’re shopping.
Contactless Payments – In most shops, they either do not accept cash or they will try to encourage other methods of payment in order to reduce contact. For shop assistants that handle large amounts of cash on a usual day, restricting to contactless only payments drastically reduces their chance of infection from customers.
Fitting Rooms – No shoppers will be permitted to try on clothing in store and in many places returned clothing will need to be quarantined before it is handled and put back into the store to resell. Many online shops have also adapted their returns policy, however this has come under scrutiny as some workers are thought to feel like they are being pushed extra hard to keep up with the transactions.
Toilets – In many places, the toilets are now restricted and are not open to members of the public due to the increased risk of infection through shared facilities. For some people, this is probably enough to completely put them off shopping, in a way helping to enforce the social distancing measures that have been put in place. In other places, there are significantly reduced numbers of cubicles, and people may face long queues before going in.
To lower the rate of infection and to help keep yourself and those around you safe, it’s important that we all do our part in following the government guidelines when we do go shopping.
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