As the UK commences the easing of lockdown measures and restrictions related to COVID-19, it is essential that businesses take every possible preventive measure whilst reopening to manage customers and staff.
It is essential that you provide them with guidance regarding new practices and procedures being implemented to ensure the health and safety of both themselves and your employees.
Advice to Minimise Contact
One of the simplest and most effective ways of minimising the potential spread of germs and diseases such as COVID-19, is to limit contact between people as much as possible. Prior to this pandemic, these types of procedures may not have been on anyone’s mind, but as we attempt to get back to a “new normal”, adhering to basic precautions will be key to achieving this.
To minimise the amount of contact at your business you could look at the following steps:
• Outline the number of customers or clients that can reasonably fit on your premises, including outdoor areas, while also following the current social distancing guidelines. Take into account total floor space, as well as likely pinch points and busy areas. Whilst also considering how interactions will take place within these confines?
• Limit the number of customers in your business, and display this total before allowing them into the area.
• Encourage customers and staff to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises and ensure there is signage promoting this throughout.
• Discourage customers from unnecessary handling or touching products while onsite.
• Suspend or reduce areas of the business in which it will be difficult to maintain social distancing guidelines.
• Encourage customers to attend alone, unless they require specific assistance.
• Remind customers who may have children with them, that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and that they must follow social distancing guidelines.
• Observe how customers and clients navigate the premises, and be prepared to adjust traffic flow to reduce congestion and contact.
• Ensure any changes to entrances and exits take into account adjustments for those who need them, including people with disabilities.
• Where possible provide additional parking or facilities, such as securable bike racks, in order to help staff and customers avoid using public transport.
• Utilise any outside areas where possible, as this will help expand the size of your operation, allowing for distancing measures.
• Remember to work with local authorities and/or your landlord to anticipate the effects of any of your outside processes, such as queues, in public spaces.
• If you operate a shopping centre, remember it is your responsibility to regulate the number of customers in the centre and the queuing process in communal areas on behalf of your tenants.
• Try to work with neighbouring businesses to consider methods by which you may be able to spread the number of customers arriving throughout the day, such as by staggering opening hours.
How to Provide Guidance
In addition to implementing new safety measures, another key step to providing a safe atmosphere for your customers and staff is to ensure you communicate and explain these changes.
Any precautions and procedures that you implement may lack effectiveness, if customers and staff, are not properly instructed.
Therefore, it is important that everyone understands your safety measures, and how they should follow them, by taking the following steps:
• You should give clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to each customer upon arrival, such as by using signs and visual aids.
• You should provide written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to customers both inside and outside of your business. Be sure to consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing.
• Consider creating and training social distancing champions within your business to demonstrate social distancing guidelines to customers.
• Ensure that your current guidelines are visible throughout all areas of the business.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many will be excited by the prospect of getting back to normal, but patience and proper precautions will be of paramount importance.
The sight of customers returning to your business is a welcome one, but it is up to you to ensure that everyone is as safe as possible.
Contact us today for more information and to help with your risk management.
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