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Limited entry, marshals, screens: How shops plan to protect staff and customers

The Prime Minister has ordered people to only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’.


Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops (Ben Birchall/PA)

Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops (Ben Birchall/PA)

Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops (Ben Birchall/PA)

Shops providing the country with essential goods have outlined how they plan to keep staff and customers safe during the coronavirus lockdown.

Waitrose has backed the Government’s plea for social distancing with what it calls “a set of strong, new measures” to help its customers shop safely.

The company said the number of customers allowed in at any one time will be limited so that social distancing can be observed, and a “one in, one out” policy will be operated when it is judged that the shop is at capacity.

Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind people to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the nation from 10 Downing Street as he placed the UK on lockdown (PA)

Waitrose will dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them, while NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

There will also be “safe distance” floor signage, protective screens at checkouts, and additional security.

Morrisons, which has already put up perspex screens, is introducing signage in stores to support social distancing, including floor stickers, posters and banners which will ask customers to keep one trolley distance apart, as well as giving guidance on where to wait and where to queue.

Asda has also announced similar measures, saying it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance, and will install perspex screens at its checkouts. Hand sanitiser will be available for customers to use when entering and departing.

Nationwide Building Society has reduced its branch opening hours in response to the crisis, with most branches now opening from 10am until 2pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am until 12pm on Saturday.

Nationwide said there will be a two-metre distance rule between staff and customers at all times, while numbers of people in branches will be restricted to ensure rules around space can be controlled as much as possible.

Where possible, customers are being asked to use online or mobile banking services, particularly those at higher risk.

Sainsbury’s said it is “working through the detail” but expects to restrict the number of people allowed in stores at any one time, and will also be introducing barriers outside to ensure people queue at a safe distance when waiting to get in.

The supermarket said it will also have reminders to keep two metres apart displayed throughout stores, screens at manned checkouts, and will close every other payment point to help keep people apart.

Santander said its branches will remain open where possible, but a number of its more vulnerable workers are currently being advised to stay at home while others are self-isolating.

Due to this, the bank has been unable to open a number of its branches.

Meanwhile, Unison said shopping centres, pubs, gyms and other businesses are being urged to provide free parking to NHS and care staff.

The union, which represents NHS, school, police, care and other essential key public service workers, is calling on local businesses closed because of the lockdown to help key workers drive to work and avoid public transport.

On Tuesday afternoon, Marks & Spencer said its 31 outlet stores selling only clothing and homeware will be temporarily closed.

M&S said when customers arrive at its food stores, they will see a “greeter” who will ensure the number of customers in the store at any one time is managed.

Workers redeployed from the clothing and home departments will help support limiting customer numbers entering the store.

M&S said trolleys, baskets, screens and all touch points will be cleaned every hour and deep cleaned every night.

The stores will have floor markings in queuing areas to remind customers about social distancing and “sneeze guards” will be in place.

Customers will be asked not to scan their Sparks card and cash payments are discouraged.