Thousands of non-essential retail businesses such as clothes and homeware shops across England have taken advantage of the opportunity to reopen to members of the public since Monday, June 15.
Some shops and retailers were able to provide an online service during the closures to help tackle coronavirus. However, many were unable to do so.
Retailers have now used the comprehensive UK Government guidance made available to help high street businesses prepare to reopen their doors in a way that is safe for their employees and customers, such as ensuring social distancing. Today, we look at what measures are in place to make it safe for customers to visit reopened businesses.
Blend Coffee Co directors Oli Crawley and Tom Jennion have taken steps to allow them to safely reopen their independent coffee shop at Portslade in Sussex. They have implemented a series of measures based on UK Government advice so they could reopen safely for both staff and customers.
They said: “Blend Coffee Co has two directors, and we employ a further three members of full-time and part-time baristas. “Only the directors have returned to work to alleviate any pressure on our barista team feeling they need to work; this also allows an operational analysis of all our new protocols to ensure they are efficient and safe. “Our primary concern is to keep people safe, so to make sure our coffee shop was ready to be reopened we implemented a number of safer working measures.”
These new measures include:
• A deep clean of the shop prior to reopening.
• Implementation of a new ordering layout.
• A new policy stipulating zero customers inside the store.
• The till system has been moved to the front of the shop, with orders automatically being sent to the back of the house for preparation.
• A new collection process which means customers will be a safe distance away (behind signage) whilst ordering. There is a waiting area outside which adheres to social distancing, and once their order is ready, the customer can safely collect from the collection point.
• Only accepting card payments.
• New cleaning schedules of the premises and all areas which come into contact with both customers and staff.
• Pre and post-shift cleaning.
Oli and Tom said: “This plan was developed after we undertook a risk assessment and analysis of the premises to ensure that customer-staff interaction could be maintained and sustained in a safe manner.
“We ran a test prior to reopening to ensure that our new measures would work and allow us and our customers to stay safe. “We have accessed the Job Retention Scheme as it was impossible to offer work to our staff in the circumstances. “The scheme enabled us to keep all staff on the payroll, something we would not have been able to do without it.
“Our three baristas remain on the furlough scheme until it is safe to reopen at our full capacity.
“We have also accessed the Retail and Hospitality grant which will help us with our lease payments and overheads.”
The latest steps to rebooting economy
Shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies have been trading responsibly throughout the pandemic.
Building on this, reopening non-essential retail is the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods. Shops can only reopen once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
The UK Government is taking action to help businesses reopen and protect their staff and customers, including publishing updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store.
Measures that shops should consider include:
• Placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures.
• Storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor.
• Placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas.
• Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.
Shop owners and customers can find out more about safety measures at www.gov.uk/guidance/ working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/shops-and-branches
‘High streets are a heart of community’
It is now safe to return to shops, provided employees and customers follow social distancing and other safety precautions. The move is the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods, restarting the UK’s economy, and ensuring vital public services like the NHS continue to be funded.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country.
“Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”
CBI Deputy Director General Josh Hardie said: “As our high streets slowly reawaken, this new guidance is important for businesses on the ground. Our shops are doing all they can to keep the public and their staff safe, and we’ve seen many retailers leading from the front with innovative solutions to do just that.
“As more and more businesses turn their attention to reopening, this guidance will help them plan to do so safely and securely.”