News Coronavirus Coronavirus: Supermarkets bring in new health measures

Coronavirus: Supermarkets bring in new health measures

woolworths shares staff virus
Woolworths says the shares and credits are a recognition of the challenges workers have faced. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
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Supermarkets are increasing precautions with Woolworths going as far as to install protective screens at its checkouts and Coles bringing in a range of health measures.

Woolworths announced this week it was “rapidly” introducing a range of measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers.

The most noticeable of those will be clear plastic screens that will be rolled out at manned checkouts of every Woolworths store in Australia.

They’ve already been installed at Woolworths Town Hall and North Kellyville in New South Wales.

Woolies has also rolled out in-store markings to show customers safe social distances in check-out areas. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The measure has also been adopted in the UK by Aldi and Morrisons, as the country goes into lockdown.

It follows the rollout over the weekend of security guards for every Woolworths supermarket.

“As our team members continue providing for the community, we will do everything necessary to uphold public health and safety in our stores,” Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said.

Pack your own bag

Coles wants shoppers to pack their own groceries to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

The supermarket giant has written to customers with a new set of rules aimed at keeping its stores safe for shoppers and staff.

People have been told they must not enter stores if they are sick, and should handle their own bags and pack their own groceries to limit the risk of spreading the virus.

They have also been asked to wash or sanitise their hands before entering stores and shoppers must stay 1.5 metres away from others at all times.

Special directions will be provided at checkouts to make sure people in queues don’t get too close together.

The retailer is spending an extra $1 million a week on extra cleaning and security guards, with special attention paid to sanitising high contact surfaces including trolleys, baskets, and checkout areas.

And customers are being encouraged to pay via tap-and-go.

Masks and gloves are not being recommended for shopping, in line with health department advice.

Bakery departments are also making changes, with items including bread baked on site to be pre-wrapped to ensure products are not contaminated.

“Finally, we’ll be regularly rotating our teams on checkouts throughout the day to help keep everyone safer,” Coles said in a letter to customers on Friday.

“Please respect the guidelines we’re putting in place as your health and safety remains a priority to us.”

The moves are being mirrored across the retail industry.

Bunnings has announced it is providing its staff with gloves and sanitiser and will increase in-store cleaning for counters, trolleys and baskets.

The hardware chain is closing water fountains and employ tap-and-go payment where possible.

Keeping the grocery shop safe

All supermarkets are encouraging shoppers to practise social distancing – Coles and Woolies are recommending the length of a trolley as a safe guideline.

Aldi is limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the aisles at one time in selected stores – if this is a store near you, the supermarket asks to allow those less able or who require assistance to enter ahead of you.

The key message continues to be: Keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands, make use of hand sanitiser in store, and don’t go to the shop if you’re feeling unwell.

-with AAP