How to reopen your shop safely

How to reopen your shop safely
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Wed 10th Mar 2021

With non-essential retail permitted to re-open in England from 12 April and a possible date of 26 July for Scotland, this guide outlines how to welcome customers back to your shop safely.

This is general guidance for UK retailers. Some specific rules and advice may vary according to the country. Here are the links to government guidance:

Carry out a risk assessment

​Employers are legally required to protect people from harm so you should carry out a risk assesment to help you manage the risks from coronavirus.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says you must:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus

  • think about who could be at risk

  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed

  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn't possible, control the risk

Businesses with over five employees are required to record the risk assessment in writing. Although it's not a legal requirement, the HSE recommends the businesses with under five staff might also find it useful to write it down.

Once you've worked out the risks, you must introduce mitigation measures such as social distancing and additional handwashing facilities.

Here are risk assessment templates to use:

Maintain social distancing

You need to work out how many customers you can have in store at one point to maintain two metres social distancing. You may need to regulate entry to avoid overcrowding.

You should control the flow of customers inside your shop by taking measures such as directing customers to use lanes, introducing a one way system and using separation screens.

Use clear signs and posters to remind customers of social distancing and crowd controlling measures.

Two metres social distancing should also be maintained among staff. This includes in customer facing areas and also in employee only areas such as canteens and offices.

If two metres cannot be maintain, you should look at redesigning the activity or adhering to one metre social distancing with mitigating controls.

Mitigations include:

  • increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning

  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other

  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working rather than face-to-face

  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using 'fixed teams or partnering' so each person works with only a few others

Face coverings

By law, customers must wear a face covering unless they are exempt so you should display signs in your premises reminding customers of the need to wear one.

When it comes to enforcing the wearing of face coverings by customers, the government says businesses "should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law". The responsibility for forcibly removing non-exempt people who refuse to wear a mask lies with the police.

Staff (who are not exempt) should wear a face covering but they are not legally required to do so if you follow COVID-19 safety guiance and create a physical barrier between staff and customers such as a Perspex screen.

The specific rules on face coverings for each country are here:

Cleaning and handwashing

Your shop should be regularly cleaned using your usual cleaning products. Services and objects that are touched often, such as self-checkouts, shopping baskets and trolleys, coffee machines and handheld devices, should be cleaned frequently.

You should display signs to remember staff and customers about the need for frequent handwashing. Provide free to use hand sanitisers in customer and staff areas.

Fitting rooms are challenging to operate safely so they should be closed where possible. There may be some circumstances where fitting rooms have to be used, such as for key workers buying protective clothing. If so, they should be cleaned between uses and contact between staff and customers should be limited.

You should limit customer touching of merchandise for sale by using methods such as adapted products displays, cleaning more often than usual and encouraging customers to only touch merchandise they intend to buy.

You should also encourage contactless payments and have click and collect systems with staggered arrivals and a queuing system.

Hello, World is Enterprise Nation's campaign to help businesses reopen and reconnect with customers in physical locations. Get involved.

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 

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