Understandably, as a nation that uses retail business and suchlike on a daily basis, we are all wanting things to get back to normal. The COVID-19 pandemic and our necessary national lockdown have seen many businesses closing for a period, due to government rules which put our health and safety first.

Since hearing the news at the end of last month in which our Prime Minister announced that non-essential retailers are going to be allowed to reopen as of Monday 15th June, there have been a lot of questions about how you can best prepare. This blog is a simple, handy guide to help you do just that.

1. Follow the government’s guidance.

– For our economy to re-grow, we need to follow the national advice provided by the government, which will help our staff and customers stay safe. You can find this here.

2. Deep clean the business premises before opening.

You must reduce the risk of disease. It is critical that you have appropriate cleaning products to disinfect and prevent the spread. Household ones are fine to use around your business premises.

Wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is complete.

By using a disposable cloth, clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with your usual cleaning products. Pay particular attention to high traffic areas, such as bathrooms, hand-rails and door handles.

Make sure that you and your staff wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. After you have finished cleaning, remove gloves, aprons, and other protection.

If you feel that an area may likely have body fluids – for example, someone talking closely at the protective screen shields at the till area, do not take any unnecessary risks. Make sure to use face-masks and any PPE you have available.

3. Control your footfall.

For a little while longer, it’s reasonable to assume that every business will need to observe social distancing and limit the number of people on the premises at one time. If you have enough staff available, have one or two at the door greeting customers. Try to let your customer know the store is currently operating either by your team telling them or having clearly visible posters and exterior signage such as A-boards.

Inside the premises, try to discourage browsing. You can do this by creating a one-way system, indicated by floor graphics showing the direction to walk. You may feel it appropriate to section off areas that are currently too high-risk of infection and could cause a blockage in traffic.

4. Hand sanitizing and washing.

You may have noticed supermarkets already doing this, having a hand wash area at the entrance. One usually consists of a sanitizer dispenser, cleaning tissue/cloth/roll, and sometimes gloves. Make sure that your staff indicates that these are for customers to use if they wish.

Remind staff that they are to wash their own hands frequently also.

5. Encourage face coverings and gloves.

It would be advisable to ask your staff to wear PPE, including a face mask. You can download a comprehensive business guide to all types of face masks and coverings here.

It is also advisable that people (i.e. your customers) wear face coverings when out of the home and going into more confined areas such as public transport or shops.

If your staff will be handling the same goods or coming into contact with the same surfaces, make sure that they wear gloves too.

Before you go

Being responsible for the safety of your retail business staff and customers can be a huge task, but with preparation, you’ll succeed. Remember that you’re not the only person and business in this situation, so others should be supportive and empathetic. Take great pride in helping each other.

We wish you the best of luck and hope that you keep safe throughout the coming months.