Coronavirus: Shops should reopen based on safety, says retail chief

Yahoo Finance UK
Female sales clerk behind acrylic wall with customer waiting to pay, both following safety protocol amid Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: Getty
Female sales clerk behind acrylic wall with customer waiting to pay, both following safety protocol amid Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: Getty

As lockdown eases shops should be allowed to reopen based on their safety procedures rather than their size or business type, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Chief executive Helen Dickinson told the BBC retailers should not open if they could not guarantee they are able to operate safely.

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Dickinson said she expects a "gradual lifting" of the restrictions with schools and transport reopening early on.

She believes the government guidance announced this evening at 7pm will reflect the BRC's advice on practical measures that can be taken to protect staff and the public.

The BRC, the UK retail industry lobby group, issued guidance at the end of April to prepare companies for reopening in anticipation of lockdown restrictions lifting.

READ MORE: Pound up as UK government tipped to ease lockdown measures

The guidance includes providing hand sanitiser for customers, encouraging people to shop alone, limiting customer numbers in shops at one time, encouraging cashless payments and enforcing social distancing at two metres apart.

It is also expected that shops will follow the practice of supermarkets and make use of plastic screens at checkouts, use personal protective equipment and stagger shift times.

All non-essential shops have been closed in the UK since 23 March, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Dickinson said if stores began to reopen safety measures would "give us confidence as shoppers, members of the public, that we can go out to shop."

READ MORE: Garden centres in England to reopen on Wednesday

It has also already been confirmed by a senior government source that garden centres in England will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday provided they comply with social distancing.

Boris Johnson is expected to confirm  this tonight in his address to the nation, where he will also set out plans for a COVID-19 alert system to track the virus in England.

The government has also revealed it is working with tech giants Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and Citymapper to develop an app to help people avoid large crowds when travelling to work.

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