Government Guidance for Shops

Non-essential shops will be opening for business from 15th June

From 15 June, the government  in England intends to allow all other non-essential stores, ranging from department stores to small independent shops to reopen with retailers being told to make every effort to comply with social distancing and be ‘COVID-19 Secure.’

For England, the government has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. The guidance documents set out guidance on how to work safely. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace. Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. Last updated 29th May, the guidance helps you to think about risk, who should go back to work, social distancing, managing customers and workforce, and more. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all taking a slightly different approach, see our useful links at the end of the article for more information.

Details on the government’s guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic can be viewed in the following link:

More specifically guidance for Shops and Branches can be viewed here:

Risk Assessments

Retailers will be required to undertake a risk assessment, based on the government guidance. You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and government expect all employers with over 50 workers to do so). Below you will find a notice you should display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.

As part of the risk assessment retailers are required to consider their working practices to reduce risk, such as providing dedicated work stations for staff, rethinking demonstrations and promotions to minimise direct contact and to maintain social distancing.

Tips and Guidance

Where social distancing is not always possible, retailers are advised to take mitigating measures including:

  • Reviewing store layouts
  • Screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • Side-to-side or back-to-back working (rather than face-to-face) where possible
  • Staggering the arrival and departure times of employees to avoid overcrowding
  • Reducing movement around stores with the encouraged use of radios or telephones for communication
  • A one-way flow system through stores with floor markings and signage
  • Staff should also be grouped into shift patterns or pairings to reduce contact as much as possible
  • Meetings should be limited and break times should be staggered with packaged meals provided to avoid opening staff canteens
  • Handwashing facilities and cleaning materials should be made readily available

Keeping Safe while browsing

To manage customers, retailers are encouraged to:

  • Define the number of customers that can reasonably follow two metre physical distancing within the store
  • Limit the number of customers in-store and encourage them to shop alone
  • Have more than one entry point in larger stores to reduce congestion
  • Use floor markings and signage to aid social distancing
  • Use contactless payment where possible
  • Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be undertaken without breaking social distancing guidelines
  • Use outside space for queuing where possible
  • Encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises to reduce the risk of transmission by touching products while browsing. Working with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your processes, including queues, on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.
  • Encouraging customers to avoid handling products whilst browsing, if at all possible.
  • Increased cleaning of high touch objects

If your premises has ventilation or air conditioning, consider the impact these might have on your staff and customers and if they serve multiple buildings.

The government guidance also provides information on the use of protective equipment and workforce management.

Retailers displaying HETAS Advice leaflets are advised to remove these from display at present. Get in touch with us on and we can provide you with copies to host on the website, or simply link to

Additionally, retailers offering delivery should also risk assess this area of work. For staff working in vehicles the following guidance should be adhered to.

Social Distancing Signage

For signage for your showroom, consider supporting a local print business who might be able to supply you promptly with signage to suit your business, along with branding opportunities.

Alternatively, national suppliers such as offer a range of solutions.

Further Support and Regional Guidance

Guidance on business support from the government can be found here:

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