New safety guidance issued for retailers reopening stores

The Government has issued guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 14.05.2020 | Retail

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Following the PM’s address to the nation on his plan to reopening the economy, the government has issued guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments, who may be thinking about reopening over the course of the next few weeks.

On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that the Government was working towards a provisional date of 1 June to begin the phased reopening of non-essential retailers.

The guidance comes as part of a wider series of guidance published to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The Government, in consultation with industry, has produced this guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. The eight guides, currently available for download, cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. As such the Government advices that these businesses may need to use more than one of these guides to keep people safe.

The Working safely during Covid-19 in shops and branches document is designed to help employers, employees and the self- employed in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible two metres apart from those they do not live with.  

It is hoped that this document will give retailers freedom within a practical framework to think about what they need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the Covid-19 pandemic. With many businesses of this type currently closed for their usual service by government regulation (see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further- businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and- premises-to-close-guidance); the Government says that it hopes this guidance will be useful for those businesses as they develop new ways of working or to help prepare for the time when they are able to reopen.  

This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  

The resources now available to retailers include a poster to display in the window to illustrate that the business is following the Government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19. The poster recognises five key activities that the retailers should be following when they reopen their doors: 

  • The business must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment and shared the results with employees 
  • The retailer must also maintain cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance  
  • All reasonable steps should be taken to help people work from home  
  • All reasonable steps should be taken to maintain a two metre distance in the workplace  
  • Where people cannot be two metres apart, the store must do everything practical to manage transmission risk  

Other safety guidance measures outlined in the document for retailers include: 

  • Reviewing store layout 
  • Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible  
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other  
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible  
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’  
  • 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 through store and at entry and exit points 
  • Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a two metre distance 
  • Minimising contacts around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments 
  • Staggering break times to reduce pressure on the staff break rooms or places to eat 
  • Using safe outside areas for breaks 
  • Reducing movement around stores with the encouraged use of radios or telephones for communication 
  • Defining the number of customers that can reasonably follow 2m social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas 
  • Limiting the number of customers in the store, overall and in any particular congestion areas 
  • Suspending or reducing customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines 
  • Encouraging customers to shop alone where possible 
  • Reminding customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times  
  • Using outside premises for queuing where available and safe 
  • Having clearly designated positions from which colleagues can provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance 
  • Shopping centres should take responsibility for regulating the number of customers in the centre and the queuing process in communal areas on behalf of their retail tenants 
  • Continuing to keep customer restaurants and cafes closed until further notice, apart from when offering hot or cold food to be consumed off the premises 

For the complete document, click here.

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