As governments start to lift their COVID-19 lockdowns, retail workers in clothing, department and other stores are readying themselves to return to work as long as it is safe to do so.
It is a fact that consumers can look forward to renewed freedom to shop largely because of the health and safety measures advocated by the SDA and introduced at those essential retail outlets that remained open during the early days of the COVID-19 emergency – notably supermarkets, service stations, pharmacies and fast food outlets.
These essential outlets have been remarkably free of COVID-19 outbreaks in large measure because of the SDA’s promotion with retailers of its 10-point health and safety plan.
It is clear, however, that the crowds beginning to appear at shopping centres threaten to jeopardise these early successes, risking a second wave of Coronavirus infection, forcing renewed restrictions on movement and even more dire consequences for the economy and employment.
For that reason, the SDA has already been in discussion with the Morrison government, the retailers and the shopping centres seeking agreement on a Ten Point Plan for Shopping Centre Health and Safety.
1. Make alcohol-based hand sanitiser available at key locations including building entrances, customer service desks and food courts.
2. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of regularly used objects and hard surfaces including hand rails of escalators and stairs, bathroom door handles, food court tables, lifts, customer directories, and other key hygiene measures (e.g. waste disposal).
3. Ensure social distancing guidelines in accordance with Government and public health authority directions, which is currently a distance of 1.5m. Actions to include signage ‘reminders’, one-way queueing, and ground markings (e.g. stickers or tape) for queueing. Markings on the floor of escalators and supervision of escalators to ensure social distancing when escalators are in use.
4. Enforce public gathering limits in accordance with Government direction which is currently no more than 1 person per 4 square metres (inclusive of staff). This should be calculated based on the common areas, shops, cafes, cinemas, etc. Actions to include regulating access points, monitoring customer counts at relevant entrances and in car parks, displaying signage.
5. Monitor and enforce customer adherence to relevant public health guidelines by security guards and other personnel, which may also include Police visits to shopping centres.
6. In bathrooms every second sink and urinal to be taped off.
7. Children’s strollers, motorized shopping trolleys and novelty shopping trolleys not to be available. Play areas to be closed and drinking fountains to be closed.
8. Seating in food courts to be arranged to maintain social distancing and ensure regular cleaning of table and chairs.
9. Free car parking to enable employees to choose the safest form of transport for them, whether that is car, public transport or other forms of transport.
10. Centres to take a zero-tolerance approach to customer abuse and violence and to publicly promote the SDA’s No One Deserves A Serve Campaign to improve customer behaviour.
Agreement to the Ten Point Plan for Shopping Centre Health and Safety will give shoppers, shop owners and workers increased certainty and confidence while minimising the risks of shopping centres becoming a source of second wave COVID-19 infection with even more terrible consequences for workers, shoppers, retailers and the economy at large.