All shops in England, regardless of what they sell, will be able to open with social distancing measures in place from the middle of June. Retailers across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire have been working on plans to enable social distancing and reduce the chances of coronavirus transmission via clothing and other items that are on sale in their stores.
You can also help reduce the chances of coronavirus transmission with some simple changes to your shopping behaviour. Here are our 8 Social Distancing tips for shoppers:
1. Keep your distance
It’s very important to follow the government rules about social distancing while out & about. Many shops and retail outlets are limiting the number of people in their stores and have distancing stickers near the entrance and tills to make sure shoppers stay two metres apart whilst queuing. However, it’s also important to make sure you maintain the same distance while walking around the shop. Don’t reach across or stand close to someone while picking your products from shelves or fridges, and if an aisle looks crowded, come back to it later in your shop.
2. If a shop looks too busy, wait outside or come back later
While most retail outlets are introducing one in/one out policies to limit the number of shoppers in their stores, some smaller shops have not introduced this yet or may find it hard to enforce. If your favourite shops look too crowded to allow you to stay two metres away from other shoppers, wait outside until it’s quieter or shop elsewhere.
Many of the major supermarkets offer a click and collect service which could help limit your time queuing and in store, although with increasing demand, available collection slots are becoming more difficult to come by.
So don’t limit yourself to the big supermarkets – many local food shops are allowing people to call and place orders ahead of time to limit how long they need to spend in their stores, so check whether this is the case for your local butcher or greengrocer and, if it is, get your order in! Lussmanns are offering this service across Hertfordshire for example.
3. Get creative with online grocery options
Although the major supermarkets are struggling to meet demand, there are other less conventional options that are still delivering to people. Many restaurants and catering suppliers are getting creative and are now delivering to households, with meat, veg and fruit boxes available for the same week.
Keep an eye on social media posts from local community groups for updates on what’s available in your area. This even applies to wine thanks to Must Wine.
4. Keep your shopping trips to a minimum
Government advice is to shop wisely – You can do this with the help of social media and at the same time, find some amazing offers. When you do venture out, plan ahead and do a full shop buying produce you can freeze so that you know the food will last you as long as possible. Remember to write a list so you don’t forget things!
5. Shop alone and quick
Don’t take the family on your shopping trips. If you’re able, shop alone to reduce the number of people in the store and minimise the risk of others catching the virus. Where possible, leave children at home. If you like to browse, keep it to a minimum and think of others waiting to shop too.
6. Take care when paying
Take care at self-checkout stations – many people will have touched the screens, so use antibacterial hand gel as soon as you’ve finished your shop. Where possible, use contactless or card payments rather than cash, which may carry germs.
Many retail outlets have installed plastic screens at the checkout to protect their employees and customers, but still be conscious of supermarket employees and keep your distance as much as possible to help protect both them and you.
7. Limit the items you touch
To help protect you and other shoppers, try to only touch the items you intend to purchase to limit the spread of germs. If you buy fresh produce, ensure you wash it thoroughly before use to help wash away any germs that may be lingering.
Be careful about which surfaces you touch – it’s understood the virus that causes COVID-19 can persist on surfaces from a few hours up to a couple of days, so make sure you sanitise your hands as soon as possible after being out in public.
8. Remember hand hygiene
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds both before your supermarket visit and as soon as you get home to reduce the risk of the infection spreading. It’s also worth taking an antibacterial hand gel with you and using it as soon as you leave the store. Finally, try not to touch your face – this is harder than it may seem but important, particularly before you’ve washed your hands.