Produced in Partnership with UK Government

With all non-essential retailers, including fashion shops and homeware stores, able to reopen from 15th June using the UK Government’s ‘Covid-Secure’ guidance, it’s the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods and restarting the UK’s economy.

As we welcome the ‘new normal’, businesses are carrying our risk assessments as well as maintaining hygiene procedures to keep staff and customers safe, including limiting how many customers are inside the building at any one time, frequent hand sanitisation and ensuring social distancing.

As well as frequently cleaning surfaces and objects that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, or staff handheld devices, employers will also need to provide regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards and help those with visual impairments or disabilities to navigate these measures.

The UK Government has published COVID-19 secure guidance to support businesses to reopen and for workers to feel confident, safe and empowered to return to work. If you run a business and would like to know which of the coronavirus support schemes you are eligible for, you can use the business support finder tool https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder. It takes just minutes to complete and will help you easily find support for your business.

Non-essential retail businesses were able to reopen their shops and stores to the public from the 15 June, and are required to meet the UK Government’s five tests and follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

Shops have had to carry out a risk assessment, using guidance from the Health and Safety Executive and employers have a duty to consult staff and union representatives. Businesses are expected to inform all employees about the findings of the assessment and those with more than 50 employees should publish the results on their website.

Shops also need to develop hygiene procedures to keep staff and customers safe, including frequency of hand-washing and cleaning of surfaces; as well as limiting how many customers are inside their building at any one time.

Employers will also need to provide regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards and help those with visual impairments or disabilities to navigate these measures.

Businesses can get safer workplaces guidance, visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

IKEA greets eager shoppers

Peter Jelkeby, IKEA’s Country Retail Manager for UK and Ireland

IKEA has reopened 22 stores nationwide after temporarily closing when the nation went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the iconic furniture and homeware Swedish giant continued its online retail operations since 23rd March, it has now enforced new measures to help protect staff and the thousands of eager shoppers visiting their reopened stores.

Customers are being asked to stick to strict new rules, and that all shoppers come into stores alone with the only exceptions being if customers need special assistance or need to bring their children with them.

With new safety measures introduced as well as reduced opening hours, the furniture chain has also introduced a strict queuing system to manage entry into the store. Staff and signage are helping customers stick to social distancing guidelines inside the shop.

Hand sanitisers are stationed throughout the store, as will new protective screens at key points such as checkouts and cashless payments.​ Deeper and more frequent cleaning routines for bags, trolleys, bathrooms, rest areas, equipment and touchscreens has been implimented.

Peter Jelkeby, IKEA’s Country Retail Manager for its UK and Ireland stores, is delighted about the team spirit that has powered the return: “In the weeks that we’ve been closed to customers, we’ve been focused on accelerating our plans to create a new IKEA; one that is more accessible, affordable and sustainable,” he says.

IKEA’s new measures focus on maintaining a ‘safe environment’ for everyone and have provided online safety training and health screenings for all shop floor staff. The UK and Ireland reopenings follow the return of service at its stores across the rest of Europe.

“In the UK, we’re in a fortunate position to be able to build on learnings from other IKEA countries that have reopened ahead of us, and we have a range of comprehensive measures in place to ensure that our co-workers and customers are comfortable and safe with us at all times,” Jelkeby explains.

“To help ensure social distancing, we have implemented a new one-way system and have Social Distance Wardens throughout to help customers find their way round and remain accessible to the many people. Whilst room sets remain open, they are limited to one group at a time.”

Jelkeby recommends that shoppers do plan ahead, to ensure that they have the best experience possible in store: “To be fair to all customers and to help limit browsing, we are encouraging everyone to come to store prepared for what they want to buy, as well as to bring their own bags,” he says.

“Where possible, we also encourage customers to shop online, from the comfort of their own home, where wardrobe, kitchen, living room storage, sofa and home furnishing planning services are readily available.

“And we ask those who purely wish to return items, not to come to our stores in the first instance. We have a 365 days returns policy and urge customers, where possible, to return items at a later date, when they will find it easier to do so.”

8 ways Ikea is safeguarding its stores

Online health & safety and social distancing training, and health screening prior to co-workers’ return to work.
Guidance and support for travelling to work safely, what to do when arriving at work and separate co-worker entry and exits.
Limited numbers of customers granted entry in store at any one time. A staggered entry system and restricted car parking and, in line with guidance, one adult and one child per household will be permitted.
Social Distance Wardens throughout the store to help customers find their way round the new one-way system and ensure new social distancing measures are being followed.
Customers urged to come prepared with ready-made lists and their own bags.
Additional hand sanitiser facilities and more frequent deep cleaning routines for bags, trolleys, bathrooms, rest areas, equipment and touchscreens.
Screens at key areas such as checkouts, service points and customer returns, to enable social distancing.
Swedish Food Market will be open, with the Bistro offering a takeaway service.

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