'Non-essential' shops issued with strict post lockdown guidance

27 April 2020, 11:34

Shoppers could experience a very different shopping experience
Shoppers could experience a very different shopping experience. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Shoppers could be forced to buy clothes without being able to try them on under strict new guidelines issued to retailers for when stores reopen.

Plans drawn up preparing for the easing of the UK's coronavirus lockdown suggests shop managers should consider closing or limiting access to changing rooms as well as limiting access to stores.

Shops that were deemed “non-essential” have been shut since the government set out strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus on 23 March.

Those allowed to remain open under lockdown include supermarkets, pharmacies, newsagents and post offices.

Shop chains have also been told they may need extra security to ensure customers respect social-distancing regulations and stay two meters apart while queueing.

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The guidance, drawn up by shop workers; union Usdaw and the British Retail Consortium comes ahead of any possible announcement of more stores reopening.

USDAW general secretary Paddy Lillis said that “Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees. However, we need to be ready and we need to make sure that the proper preparations and measures are put in place.”

Last week B&Q became the first retailer to begin reopening its stores during the coronavirus lockdown.

The DIY chain has reopened 155 outlets across the UK this week but said “social distancing controls” will be in force.

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The guidance to retailers also suggested stores could close toilets and shut restaurants and cafes as well as considering using separate entrances and exits. 

The document also tells shop bosses to assess the size and layout of shops to “calculate the number of customers who can reasonably follow two-metre social distancing”. Shops are encouraged to work with neighbouring stores to manage outside queueing space, with two-metre distances clearly marked on the pavement.

The report, published today by the BRC, also advises shops to keep cafes and restaurants closed until further notice, erect barriers such as plastic screens at tills and consider using one-way systems around stores to maintain social distancing.

Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s chief executive, said: “Retailers are closely following developments from Government on when restrictions might be eased and are starting to plan accordingly. The safety and wellbeing of colleagues and customers remains the highest priority and these guidelines aim to support everyone in the industry.

“Since the lockdown many retailers have proved how shops can be run safely and effectively in line with the government’s social-distancing advice. This guidance is the product of retail’s incredible efforts to adapt to exceptional circumstances.”