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Protecting Retail in the Face of COVID-19 and Beyond

Jul 16, 2020
Protecting Retail in the Face of COVID-19 and Beyond

There is no doubt most retail businesses have suffered tremendously since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in widespread lockdown. While some have managed to survive by moving some services online, others have closed their doors indefinitely. With the Irish government lifting restrictions for all retailers as of June 29, many stores will be rearing to go.

Reopening is great for the economy and to start the process of restoring normalcy. However, safety is of utmost priority for business continuity in the near future and beyond. Below are some tips on how you can protect your customers, employees and premises in the midst of the pandemic and going forward.

1. Be aware of latest health advisories

If you have not been keeping abreast, you should familiarize yourself with the latest advisories put forward by the HSE,, and other related government agencies. You should also make sure your employees are aware of the recommendations before reopening to the public. The situation is constantly evolving, so you want to have all the up to date information in order to follow best practices.

2. Use signs, notices, and PA systems to reinforce safety measures

Customers and employees can forget about the safety protocols in place or become complacent. Putting up posters and notices in strategic areas of the premises can serve to provide timely reminders. These notices can reinforce the observing of physical distancing and the wearing of masks in order to gain entry, as well as how (and where) to wash hands or sanitize. In addition, PA systems can be used to repeat the safety measures as stipulated by the government, and why they should be followed.

3. Use clear markings inside store

One way to enforce physical distancing is to indicate safe distances inside the store. These include markings on the floor to show recommended standing distance, as well as indicators of traffic flow; some supermarket aisles, for instance, are narrow and are best utilized in a one-way traffic formation.

4. Man entries and exits to ensure protocols are being followed

Grocery stores and other essential services can quickly see crowds gathering in order to gain access. You should have staff manning entry and exit points to prevent overcrowding, ensure orderly assembly, and to enforce physical distancing and other safety measures.

5. Train employees on new ways to interface with the public

As mentioned earlier, all staff should be aware of government advisories in regards to COVID-19 preventative measures. However, additional training should be provided to enhance their soft skills in carrying out their regular duties as well as controlling their workspaces in respect of social distancing and sanitization. How often should they clean contact surfaces? How should they handle situations where customers may want to flout the rules?

6. Develop a cleaning protocol

Despite your best efforts, it is possible for germs to sneak in and get on surfaces such as floors, checkout counters, and supermarket trolley handles. To help minimize any possible transmission of the coronavirus, you can develop a cleaning schedule or protocol for these and other areas to be cleaned and sanitized periodically.

7. Install commercial contactless access control systems

Most retail businesses have high foot traffic daily. Before the COVID outbreak, access control was at the bare minimum, especially for grocery stores. But now, this is one of the most critical areas for businesses to pay attention to. Having full control over who enters the premises goes a long way in helping to prevent further spreading. What are some of the access control measures to apply?

  • Thermographic temperature scanning: This involves the use of thermal CCTV cameras that can also detect skin surface temperature and control door access. If, for example, an elevated temperature is detected in a customer as they approach, the door will remain closed and a staff member can then proceed to advise the customer of what to do next.
  • Handheld temperature screening devices: These devices use infrared technology to quickly read the body temperature of individuals and show the results. This can be used independently of thermographic CCTV cameras or in conjunction to carry out additional testing on people who may have been flagged initially by the camera system.
  • Contactless switches: Employees entering different areas of the premises will likely touch surfaces while on their way. You want to minimize this, especially for those who work in areas where a high level of sanitization is necessary. You should look into installing contactless switches that allow employees to enter and exit without touching door handles or pressing keypads.
  • Video intercoms: These allow communication between people without the need to be in the presence of each other. Moreover, they can be used in conjunction with other contactless access solutions to regulate entry to the premises.
  • Facial recognition systems: Using facial biometrics for contactless access control is nothing new but the practice has added significance in the current pandemic. As part of your security response, it will help to regulate who gets access and where.

If you need help with acquiring the right thermal CCTV systems or any other commercial contactless access control system mentioned above, the Power Right team is here to help.

8. Setting up handwashing and sanitizing stations

You want to make it easy for people to protect themselves from further spread of the disease. Setting up hand sanitization and/or handwashing facilities at entry and exit points will help to prevent the possibility of spreading the virus onto surfaces such as trolley handles, shelves, products, and counters. Remember that hand sanitizers need to have a minimum of 60% alcohol content in order to be effective.

9. Implement priority shopping times for vulnerable customers

Elderly people and those with underlying conditions are at the highest risk of contracting the COVID-19 disease. As such, you could look into setting apart special shopping hours for these customers to come in when it is most convenient. Early morning is the preferable time used by most establishments that have implemented this safety measure.

Retail outlets have a big part to play in helping to further minimize the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring business continuity. By implementing proper security measures and contactless access systems mentioned in this guide, you should be on the right track.

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