Supermarkets are ramping up measures to protect staff and customers amid the coronavirus outbreak as the UK heads into lockdown.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all “non-essential” shops to close, leaving just supermarkets and pharmacies among those still open.
Supermarkets have struggled to keep shelves replenished as Brits stockpiled goods amid the outbreak, and the new measures may pile further pressure on grocers.
This morning Waitrose and Sainsbury’s said it would limit the number of people allowed in stores at any one time to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to. Waitrose said it will will operate a one in, one out policy when shops are at capacity.
Waitrose will still dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and their carers, and NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.
Marshals will help to manage queues outside stores and enforce the two metre social distancing rule. Floor stickers will also be introduced into all Waitrose shops to ensure customers keep two metres apart while queuing at a checkout.
As part of efforts to protect staff, Waitrose has ordered checkout screens and protective visors, as well as encouraging customers to use contactless methods.
Lidl announced similar measures today as it rolled out protective screens nationwide to protect staff and customers. Chief executive Christian Hartnagel said: “We hope that this additional safeguard will help to provide extra reassurance for those both working and shopping in our stores.”
Aldi rolled out clear screens at checkouts nationwide yesterday and said it has advised colleagues and customers to observe the government’s advice on social distancing in stores.
Yesterday, it was announced that the spending limit for contactless card payments will be increased next month in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Shoppers will be able to spend £45 using contactless payments, up from £30, from 1 April.
Berangere Michel, partner & executive director of customer service at the John Lewis Partnership said: “While these measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment – they are absolutely vital to ensure that our customers can shop safely and that our Partners are protected as they go above and beyond to serve shoppers in this time of crisis.”