The grand re-opening of non-essential shops

24th June 2020

Yesterday, the government announced that all non-essential shops can re-open on 15 June.  This includes all retail shops, money branches such as post offices and money businesses as well as markets and car dealerships.

On May 25 the Government updated its guidance on working safely during coronavirus, including a section on shops and branches.

If you are looking to re-open your business, the guidance on how your shop or retail space should operate safely should be considered.  However, the guidance are just recommendations which businesses may wish to consider to facilitate the implementation of social distancing in retail stores.  It is ultimately the responsibility of the business to decide what social distancing measures they are going to implement based on what is appropriate for their business type and setting. 

The key themes are “social distancing” and hygiene.  Below, we have highlighted the key points to consider and how to open your shop in a compliant manner.

Outside the premises

The guidance suggests the following measures to ensure social distancing;

  • Limit number of entry and exit points into and out of shop. Consider having separate entrance and exit points if possible.
  • Limit the number of customers in the shop at any time. It may be worth assessing the size of you shop and its layout to calculate the number of customers who can reasonably follow 2m social distancing.
  • Consider whether temporary barriers should be used for the queue.
  • Place clear signage outside of the shop explaining the social distancing measures in place that customers should follow.
  • Place markings outside the shop to assist correct queue spacings.

Inside the premises

  • Provide cleaning stations at the front of shop including hand sanitiser (if available).
  • Identify and regularly clean key touch points e.g. door handles and card machine keypads.
  • Define the number of customers that can reasonably follow 2m social distancing within the shop and any outdoor selling areas. Consider the total floorspace as well as likely pinch points and busy areas.
  • Encourage customers to avoid handling products whilst browsing, if at all possible, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.
  • Provide written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and customers inside and outside the shop.

The Shop floor and tills

  • Use floor markings inside to facilitate compliance with the social distancing advice of 2 metres, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queuing is likely.
  • Place clear signage throughout the shop reminding customers of the social distancing measures and asking them to follow these rules.
  • Consider one-way systems using floor markings and signage.
  • Use screens or barriers to separate people from each other and staff from customers.
  • Consider restocking only outside of shop opening hours.
  • Encourage contactless/cashless purchases.
  • In regards to refunds or exchanges, you must store items that have been returned in a container or separate room for 72 hours (or if possible disinfect the returns) before displaying them back on the shop floor.


All employers have a duty of care for their staff.  This includes a duty to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection.  The government has suggested the following for employers:

  • Develop communication and training materials for workers setting out clearly the new procedures for arrival at work.
  • Stagger arrival and departure times of employees to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace.
  • Provide additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks to help people walk, run or cycle to work and avoid public transport where possible.
  • Use markings and introduce one-way flows at staff entry and exit points.
  • Provide hand-washing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.
  • Provide alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
  • Wearing a face covering is optional, however, employers should support their workers if they choose to wear one.
  • If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in the workplace, they should be sent home and advised to follow the stay at home guidance.
  • Staff can continue to use rest areas if they adhere to the social distancing measures.
  • Introduce a staggered or extended break rota to avoid crowding.