The Fitzrovia Partnership is a Business Improvement District representing businesses in the heart of London’s Fitzrovia.

Telephone: 020 3146 4260

11 -13 Bayley Street, London, WC1B 3HD



Recovery Phase: Retail

Social Distancing

General Considerations

Government guidance states you must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

Mitigating actions include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.

  • Stagger staff shift start, end and break times to avoid crowding
  • Arrange shifts to maintain same staff working where possible
  • Consider splitting teams – minimise occupants physically in the workplace
  • Consider using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possibleConsider how staff are travelling to/from work.
  • Public transport users should be offered additional flexibility
  • Facilitate home/remote working to minimise workplace exposure
  • Offer staff alternative tasks if concerns are raised
  • Creating additional space by using other parts of the workplace that have been freed up by remote working
  • Providing more storage for workers clothes and bags
  • Consider what steps will be taken by managers and staff where visitors/occupants/customers are not following social distancing measures.
  • Use floor markings inside to facilitate compliance with the social distancing advice of 2 metres or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queueing is likely
  • Place clear signage throughout the workplace reminding visitors/customers/occupants of the social distancing measures
  • Review the layout of the workplace to ensure aisles/walkways are as clear as possible to accommodate 2m social distancing or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, including the removal of fixtures and obstacles as necessary
  • Consider one-way systems using floor markings and signage to highlight system and direction
  • Make regular announcements to remind staff/customers/visitors/occupants to follow social distancing advice
  • Erect physical barriers at reception areas and till points using flexiplastic to provide a barrier for those operating the space. These should be included in workplace cleaning programmes
  • Use staff to manage the flow of people in high footfall areas In a retail setting, where till points are close together, consider closing every other till point. Assess whether this is also necessary for self-scan tills In an office setting, consider social distancing for reception staff and contactless methods of registering visitors and occupants
  • Leave non-essential doors open to minimise the number of people who touch them. This does not apply to fire doors
  • Customer order collection points should be set up to ensure the 2 metre separation either by floor markings or by limiting the number of customers that can wait at a time
  • Consider limiting the number of customers or workplace occupants in enclosed spaces such as lifts.
  • Remove promotions and features where customers are likely to congregate, such as product demonstrations or visual display units displaying non critical information in reception areas.
  • In retail settings, to limit congestion, consider restocking/replenishing only outside of store opening hours. If replenishment must be done in opening hours, assess how this can be done without compromising employee or customer safety
  • Encourage cashless purchases
  • Self-checkout/touch screens/keypads – If these remain in operation a member of staff must be available to regularly wipe these areas. Ideally between each use.

Accidents, Security and other Incidents

In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or security threat people do not have to stay 2 meters apart if it would be unsafe to do so. It would be advisable that in such an event particular attention is given to sanitisation measures immediately after the end of the event.

People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards including washing hands.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing your business incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible.
  2. Considering whether your business has enough appropriately trained staff to keep people safe. For example, having dedicated staff to encourage social distancing or to manage security.
  3. Considering the security implications of any changes your business intends to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID 19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations.
  4. For organisations who conduct physical searches of people, considering how to ensure safety of those conducting searches while maintaining security standards.
  5. Following government guidance on managing security risks.

Changing rooms, Customer Seating and Special Assistance 

  • Consider keeping changing rooms closed. If this is not possible, you must have a colleague in place at all times to ensure social distancing is maintained. In an office setting, this could be managed with adequate signage and communications
  • Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during and at the end of the day
  • Where customers require specialist advice/assistance in a retail setting, ensure colleagues giving the advice have a clearly designated position, ideally with a secure barrier as provided at till points
  • Remove or limit customer/visitor seating in store/reception/communal space. If seating is provided, space out appropriately
  • If you provide in store or business products for customers to trial prior to purchase or use e.g. TV’s, headphones, computers these must be set up to enable social distancing rules to be followed:
    • Consider whether it is better for staff to demonstrate instead of customers/visitors touching the item or Provide hand sanitiser in these areas
    • In a retail setting, stop services which require direct interaction with customers such as providing make up advice, nail bars or personal shopping.
    • If workplaces choose not to provide customer/visitor assistance, it is advisable to highlight this prior to purchase. If workplaces are providing this service they should provide suitable protection and advice for this to be conducted safely.

Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come in the store.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers and customers or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.
  2. Limiting customer handling of merchandise, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.
  3. Putting in place picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing goods hand-to-hand.
  4. Staggering collection times for customers collecting items, with a queuing system in place to ensure a safe distance of 2m or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable.
  5. Setting up ‘no contact’ return procedures where customers take return goods to a designated area.
  6. Encouraging contactless refunds, where possible.
  7. Storing items that have been returned, donated, brought in for repair or extensively handled, for example tried on shoes or clothes, in a container or separate room for 48 hours, or cleaning such items with usual cleaning products, before displaying them on the shop floor. Materials used for cleaning can be disposed of normally.
  8. Providing guidance to how workers can safely assist customers with handling large item purchases.
  9. Considering placing protective coverings on large items that may require customer testing or use, for example, furniture, beds or seats. Ensuring frequent cleaning of these coverings between uses, using usual cleaning products.
  10. Cleaning touch points after each customer use or handover. For some examples, such as rental equipment, and test drive and rental vehicles, interior and exterior touchpoints should be considered.

Cafes, Canteen’s and Toilets

Consider whether it is safe to keep customer/visitor toilets open or if these should be available on request

  • If open, regular cleaning should include manual multi-person touch points such as door handles, flushes, taps, etc.
  • In a retail setting, Baby changing facilities should be available but consider frequency of cleaning.
  • Cafes and restaurants should either be closed until further notice or provide take away services only and should be securely closed off to ensure customers do not use them for seating. Social/Physical distancing measures should be taken to manage take away only environments.
  • If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance.
  • Providing extra non recycling bins for workers and visitors to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to guidance for information on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.

Recommendations on how to implement

  • Ensure all staff are aware of the social distancing measures that are in place and trained on how they should support these measures being observed. Remind staff that social distancing applies in all areas of the workplace, including non-customer facing areas.
  • Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
  • Regular and visible written or verbal communication of the government messages.

General Considerations

Regular and visible written/verbal communication of the government messages

Daily reminders about hand washing and correct coughing etiquette using the following:

  • Additional signage
  • Written communication
  • Posters and signage
  • Daily reminders to all staff via noticeboards and/or intranets

Provision of hand sanitiser in high traffic/customer interaction areas such as:

  • Reception Areas
  • Till points or changing rooms, if open
  • Staff rooms
  • Backdoor for staff and delivery drivers
  • Regular cleaning of multi-person contact points including door handles, keypads
  • Provide additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities if possible.
  • Provide soap, water and hand sanitiser, if available
  • Facilitate regular handwashing breaks for all workplace occupants and staff.
  • Introduce frequent deep cleaning of work areas, with attention to multi contact points. For example, between shifts, staff change overs and/or during breaks.
  • Encourage use of disinfectant wipes to clean all equipment before and after each use.
  • Stagger staff shift start, end and break times to avoid crowding
  • Arrange shifts to maintain same staff working together, where possible
  • Facilitate home/remote working to minimise workplace exposure
  • Offer staff alternative tasks if concerns are raised
  • Have available sufficient gloves, masks and/or visors for those colleagues who require them.
  • If you supply re-useable visors ensure colleagues are reminded to clean them regularly during use, and before and after each use
  • Remind staff not to share items for example, pens when signing in or out
  • Consider how staff security checks can be managed while maintaining social distancing.

In staff canteens and rest areas government advice is, it is very unlikely that coronavirus is transmitted through food.

Workplace canteens may remain open where there are no practical alternatives for staff to obtain food. As far as reasonably possible, a distance of 2m or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable should be maintained between users.

Recommendations on how to implement

  • Workplace occupants can continue to use rest areas if they apply the same social distancing measures
  • Staff who go outside the workplace for a break should maintain physical distancing from any colleagues or public while doing so
  • Notices promoting hand hygiene and social distancing should be placed visibly in these areas
  • Staff should be reminded to wash their hands regularly using soap and water for 20 seconds before and after eating
  • Provision of hand sanitiser at entry/exit points/workstations/communal areas
  • Canteen staff who are unwell should not be at work
  • Canteen staff should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and before and after handling food
  • A distance of 2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable should be maintained between users
  • Where possible, staff should be encouraged to bring their own food
  • If possible, increase the number of hand washing stations available
  • Introduce a staggered or extended break rota to avoid crowding
  • Space out chairs and tables. For example, by removal or marking as “do not use”.
  • Remove sofas from break areas
  • Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • Consider providing a takeaway service to avoid crowding in the canteen

Regular review and compliance checking

  • It is important that any of the measures put in place are regularly checked to ensure customer and colleagues’ understanding and compliance.
  • With regards to customer compliance, business should review access/egress and workplace security measures and requirements on a regular basis.
  • Public/visitor facing workplace staff could be faced with difficult situations when trying to manage social distancing measures and other requirements (e.g. non-compliance).
  • Staff should be supported when trying to manage and enforce government guidance and it is important that it is made clear to customers and visitors to treat staff with respect.
  • This can be done through increased signage and the appropriate action where necessary.
  • Business and government have a duty to protect workers, and there must be a zero tolerance approach to verbal and physical abuse from customers or visitors, with clear measures in place to protect staff and manage conflict.

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