The government’s guidelines, issued last week, asked businesses to co-operate and work with local authorities to manage public spaces, but stopped short of spelling out who should ensure the rules are followed.
Several sectors have voiced concerns that large numbers of people may gather on pavements, creating a dangerous situation for themselves and staff.
Since the lockdown began on March 23, only supermarkets, banks, convenience shops and pharmacies have been allowed to remain open. While there have been queues, they’ve been seen as manageable by the staff present. However, with the reopening of all non-essential shops from June 15, retailers are anticipating much bigger queues which are likely to form on high streets with limited space.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has urged retailers to use barriers and staff to ensure queues do not “cause a risk to individuals or other businesses”. It also recommended working with local authorities and nearby retailers to agree on queuing practices. The government has even raised the prospect of staggering opening times to “help reduce demand on public transport at key times and avoid overcrowding”.
Retailers have also been encouraged to use “available and safe” areas such as car parks for outside queueing. That said, businesses believe the logistics will be difficult to manage in practice.
In response, the British Retail Consortium has stated that it is working with the government and local authorities to establish clear plans on managing public spaces once shops begin to reopen from June 15.
The issue surrounding queuing practices leaves retailers required to strike a fine balance between encouraging foot traffic and establishing “COVID-secure” spaces which protect the health and safety of staff and customers alike.
In the absence of additional government advice around queuing, retailers will be required to work with nearby businesses to develop safe practices. For more advice on how to safely reopen your retail business, see our complete guide here.
We’ve also created some free signage so you can easily communicate your social distancing measures to customers: