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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes in the way retail stores conduct business. These changes bring to mind adaptations by the travel industry after airplanes hit the twin towers in New York City in September 2001.
The travel experience across the world has not been the same since the attacks in 2001. Heightened airport security has been implemented in an increased effort to keep people safe. Safety administrations compiled an extensive list of banned items on airplanes and require most passengers to remove their shoes as an extra precaution at security check points.
The current pandemic makes one wonder which changes will endure after the Coronavirus has been contained. These times have called for increased hand sanitisation and object disinfection to hold the virus at bay. While neither of these actions completely eradicates the virus, they do help contain it during essential activities until a vaccine is discovered.
Food shopping is a top essential activity, given that humans need to eat to stay alive. In these uncertain times, a trip to the supermarket often feels more daunting than in the recent past. People who work in grocery stores, large and small, are now considered essential workers who risk their health by going to work each day.
Greater safety measures and sanitisation methods have been outlined by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for essential food businesses across the UK to keep both shoppers and employees safe. Some stores require masks to protect workers and shoppers alike from both spreading and contracting the virus. Limiting number of customers in stores at a given time is advised. Markers have been placed on floors to show customers and workers safe distance perimeters while shopping and queueing. Shoppers are asked to only touch food they intend to buy. Contactless payment limits have been increased and this payment method is encouraged since less touching is involved.
Many stores have also stepped up their virus containment efforts by offering hand and trolly sanitisation stations at their entrances. Since the virus broke out, the government has been stressing the importance of frequent hand hygiene. The World Health Organisation states that hand sanitising gel can be used as an alternative when soap and water are not readily available. Disinfectant wipes are also effective at killing germs found on shopping baskets, trollies and other surfaces throughout retail stores.
According to WebMD, one of the worst areas for germ transfer is via door handles. Hand washing soon before and after shopping is recommended to decrease infection rates. Using hand sanitiser gel before opening and closing doors, and frequently wiping door handle / push plate surfaces with disinfectant wipes, will reduce the risk of spreading germs from one person to another when entering and exiting retail locations.
Sanitising stations may be key not only to our food shopping experience, but also during the reopening process at all retail stores. While the world is still in relatively early days of this pandemic, one can’t help but wonder which changes will be incorporated into our daily lives for years to come.