On 23 March, the Government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the temporary closure of all business premises deemed non-essential.
Essential retailers, such as pharmacies, DIY shops and supermarkets, and those trading online have been transforming their business practices to protect staff and customers. This includes implementing social distancing measures inside and outside stores and in warehousing and distribution, protective plexiglass at tills, limiting numbers into stores, and regular cleaning.
In preparation for the anticipated reopening of a greater breadth of stores, the BRC has worked with Usdaw to produce guidance on Social Distancing for Non-Food Retail stores. This draws on Government advice as well as the many lessons learned by essential retailers in recent weeks.
This builds on recent BRC guidance on the safe operation of warehouses and distribution and will allow retailers, whose stores have been forced to close, to be ready to operate safely once Government restrictions are relaxed.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium 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 retail 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. The industry knows how to serve the public while protecting staff and customers alike.
“Continued close collaboration with Government, including public support for the steps retailers are taking and adequate notice to get supply chains up and running, will mean that retail businesses can start trading again slowly and safely, and customers can feel confident that they are safe to return to shops.”
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said:
“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. Usdaw and the British Retail Consortium have been working to develop advice and guidance for the non-food retail sector on what effective safe distancing in the shops might look like. We would urge all high street retailers to study the joint advice and open a dialogue with Usdaw and the BRC on putting in place plans for adequate social distancing measures in their stores.”