On 23rd March, the Government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, to protect the NHS and save lives.
All non-essential businesses are now closed, whilst essential food retailers, takeaways and pharmacies remain open. Some online retail also remains open and is encouraged by Government, and postal and delivery service continue to run as normal.
It is not clear when the non-food retail sector will re-open for business and the final decision on this will be made by Government and the public health experts. However, retailers need to be ready and as we start to prepare for the re-opening of shops it is likely that some virus control restrictions will continue to be necessary to limit transmission.
The safety and wellbeing of every retailers’ staff and customers is a top priority.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released the below outline recommendations and guidance businesses may wish to consider to facilitate implementation of social distancing in retail stores.
These are non-exhaustive, and it is the responsibility of each business to decide the most appropriate methods to implement social distancing within their shops.
Over and above these specific recommendations there should be open dialogue with colleagues to reassure them and discuss any concerns about the safety of their role.
This guidance should be implemented in addition to all legal requirements for example the Health and Safety at work regulations. Retailers are encouraged to frequently check the official Government advice which is updated daily.
Government guidance for employers can be found here and retail specific here.
The Government has issued guidance for social distancing in retail outlets, which can be read here. That advice is the basis for the practical guidance below.
All employers are expected to follow social distancing guidance. Where the production environment makes it difficult to do so, employers should consider what measures may be put in place to protect employees. Once staff have left the work areas, social distancing and further hand washing guidance should be adhered to.
Government advice recognises that “the practical implementation of this advice will depend on the local circumstances.” The guideline goes on to acknowledge the need for a local management assessment of measures that can be implemented. Businesses can meet these objectives by implementing the following measures.
BRC recommendations on how to implement:
Hygiene and cleaning
Shop Floor and Till Areas
Changing rooms, Customer Seating and Special Assistance
Cafes and Toilets
If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the business or workplace they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance. If you or an employee are experiencing symptoms, visit NHS 111 online or call 111 if there is no internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes. You should keep monitoring the government response to coronavirus for further updates.
2.1 LIMITING SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS IN THE WORKPLACE
Businesses and employers can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.
Employees and customers should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.
Government advice is clear PPE, including facemasks, is only necessary for those working in clinical situations. However, we are aware from the experience of our food retail members that some colleagues remain concerned and good practice is to supply masks or visors, and gloves to those who request them. It is important that these are used correctly to minimise the risk of infection. The use of such PPE does not replace or reduce the need to follow the government guidance in relation to hygiene practices.
Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.
BRC Recommendations on how to Implement:
2.2 IN STAFF CANTEENS AND REST AREAS
It is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food. Workplace canteens may remain open where there are no practical alternatives for staff to obtain food. As far as reasonably possible, a distance of 2 metres should be maintained between users.
It is important that any of the measures put in place are regularly checked to ensure customer and colleagues’ understanding and compliance.
With regards to customer compliance, retailers should review their in-store and out-of-store security measures and requirements on a regular basis. Public facing retail staff could be faced with difficult situations when trying to manage social distancing measures and other requirements (e.g. non-compliance). Staff should be supported when trying to manage and enforce government guidance and it is important that it is made clear to customers to treat staff with respect. This can be done through increased signage and the appropriate action where necessary. Retailers and government have a duty to protect shop workers, and there must be a zero tolerance approach to verbal and physical abuse from customers, with clear measures in place to protect staff and deal with abusive customers.
For further information and guidance from BRC, visit brc.org.uk.
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