As the UK begins to ease lockdown measures and restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, it is important that businesses that intend to reopen take every possible precaution. With customers and clients returning to your store or business, it is necessary that you provide them with guidance regarding new practices and procedures implemented to ensure the health and safety of both themselves and your employees.
One of the simplest and most effective steps to minimising the potential for spreading germs and diseases, such as COVID-19, is to have as little contact between people as possible. Prior to the pandemic, these types of measures may not have been on anyone’s mind, but as the UK attempts to get back to normal, following basic precautions will be a key step in achieving that goal.
Minimise the amount of contact at your business by taking the following steps:
- Define the number of customers or clients that can reasonably fit on your premises, including outdoor areas, while also following the 2-metre social distancing guideline. Take into account total floorspace, as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
- Limit the number of customers in your business, particularly in any congested areas, such as doorways.
- Encourage customers and clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises to reduce the risk of transmission.
- Discourage customers from unnecessary handling or touching products while browsing.
- Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be provided while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
- Encourage customers to shop alone when possible, unless they require specific assistance.
- Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and that they must follow social distancing guidelines.
- Observe how customers and clients navigate the premises, and consider how you may be able to adjust traffic flow to reduce congestion and contacts.
- Ensure any changes to entries, exits and queue management take into account reasonable adjustments for those who need them, including disabled shoppers.
- Provide additional parking or facilities, such as bike racks, in order to help customers and clients avoid using public transport.
- Use outside areas for queueing.
- Manage outside queues to ensure they do not cause a risk to individuals or other businesses.
- Work with local authorities or your landlord to gauge the effects of your processes, such as queues, in public spaces.
- If you operate a shopping centre, it is your responsibility to regulate the number of customers in the centre and the queuing process in communal areas on behalf of your retail tenants.
- Provide clearly designated positions from which colleagues can provide advice or assistance to customers and clients while maintaining social distancing.
- Work with neighbouring businesses and local authorities to consider methods by which you may be able to spread out the number of customers arriving throughout the day, such as by staggering opening hours.
- Avoid sharing vehicles except within a family, such as while providing a test drive for a customer at an automobile dealership. If this is not possible, minimise the number of people in the vehicle, position the people in the vehicle as distanced as possible and use other safety measures, such as ensuring good ventilation.
- Continue to keep customer restaurants and cafes closed until further notice, apart from when offering hot or cold food to be consumed off the premises.
In addition to implementing new safety measures and changing many aspects of your business’ pre-pandemic operations, another key step to providing a safe atmosphere for your customers and employees is actually communicating and explaining the changes. Any precautions and procedures that you implement may lack effectiveness if customers are not properly instructed.
Make sure that everyone at your business understands the rules and how to follow them by taking the following steps:
- Provide clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to each customer upon arrival, such as by using signs and visual aids.
- Inform customers that they should be prepared to remove face coverings safely if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.
- Provide written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to customers and clients both inside and outside of your business. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are visually impaired.
- Consider creating social distancing champions to demonstrate social distancing guidelines to customers.
- Ensure that your current guidelines are visible in selling and non-selling areas.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is excited by the prospect of getting back to normal, but patience and proper precautions will be of paramount importance if progress is to be made. The sight of customers returning to your business, moving through the shop and making purchases is a welcome one, but it is up to you to ensure that everyone on the premises is being as safe as possible.
Our brokers have access to additional COVID-19 resources and can offer industry-specific guidance. They are very happy to discuss any aspect of your insurance coverage and COVID-19 risk management programme with you.