27 May 2020

Updated: Government Guidance for re-opening Retail

Finally, Non- essential stores have been given the go ahead to reopen on the 15th of June. However, that’s only if they are compliant with the governments updated coronavirus safeguarding guidance for retail.

The government updated it’s guidance on the 25th of May, and if you have been following the British Retail consortiums guidelines, there will not be too many surprises. They have issued guidance one managing customers and staff, cleaning, PPE, who should go to work, as well as general advice around inbound and out bound goods and how you consider risk. You can download the full guide here, We have highlighted the key points below.


Social Distancing

Social distancing applies to all parts of store, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

Considerations to maintain social distancing:

  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Coming in and out of work

The objective of this step is to maintain social distancing and allow for safer handwashing when people start their shifts. The government has advised that these steps will usually be needed.

  • Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.
  • Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks to help people walk, run or cycle to work where possible.
  • Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.
  • Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.
  • Providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
  • Reduce congestion at entry points, Can you have secondary entry point for customers and staff to avoid congestion at the entrance,
  • Defining process alternatives for entry/exit points where appropriate, for example, deactivating pass readers at turnstiles in favour of showing a pass to security personnel at a distance.

The use of Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

The government has not mandated the use of PPE in stores and offices. When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers.

Guidance for Face coverings.

Undoubtably, many people will feel safer with face coverings and There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

Inbound and outbound goods

The aim of this guidance is to maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site, whilst this section is mainly designed for large distribution centres there are some best practical points that are easily applicable for retail.

  • Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings.
  • Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example, by ordering larger quantities less often.
  • Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles. If this is not possible consider using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.
  • Encourage drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways. However, you must still be able to allow drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.

Cleaning the workplace

The guidance is that all sites that are due to reopen undertake an assessment of what needs to be cleaned and put in place a clear guide around cleaning procedure. This section is sizable so we have just picked out key points. You can view this section by clicking here.

Steps before reopening

  • Complete a risk assessment, and complete your own guide t
  • Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.

Cleaning when open.

  • Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.
  • Frequent cleaning objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines, betting machines or staff handheld devices, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.
  • Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.
  • If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then refer to the specific guidance.

Hygiene: handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

  • Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
  • Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
  • Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms.
  • Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.
  • Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

Customer fitting rooms

The guidance’s is still to not open fitting rooms at this moment in time, unless it is for keyworkers buying critical protective clothing, they should be cleaned very frequently, typically between each use.

Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

  • Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers and customers or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.
  • Limiting customer handling of merchandise, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.
  • Putting in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.
  • Staggering collection times for customers collecting items, with a queuing system in place to ensure a safe distance of 2m.
  • Setting up ‘no contact’ return procedures where customers take return goods to a designated area.
  • Encouraging contactless refunds, where possible.
  • Storing items that have been returned, donated, brought in for repair or extensively handled, for example tried on shoes or clothes, in a container or separate room for 72 hours, or cleaning such items with usual cleaning products, before displaying them on the shop floor. Materials used for cleaning can be disposed of normally.
  • Providing guidance to how workers can safely assist customers with handling large item purchases.
  • Considering placing protective coverings on large items that may require customer testing or use, for example, furniture, beds or seats. Ensuring frequent cleaning of these coverings between uses, using usual cleaning products.

We would highly recommend looking through the full government guidance before you reopen to ensure that you feel safe and confident in reopening your store on the 15th. You can download the full guide here.

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