The no frills new world of British retail: Shoppers face one-way walking system, tills behind screens, changing rooms closed and no seating when stores reopen – but will customers be too scared to return even with huge clearance sales?
- Thousands of non-essential shops, department stores and shopping centres can open from June 15
- Outdoor markets and car showrooms can open from next Monday as lockdown restrictions are eased
- But revamped stores will look very different with checkouts behind screens and changing rooms closed
- Retailers are gearing up for what has been dubbed the ‘sale of the century’ with £15billion worth of stock
- But retail analysts have asked if customers are going to be willing to visit shopping centres or stay local
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Customers will soon enter a world of one-way systems and quarantined footwear when non-essential stores in Britain are allowed to reopen next month – but retail experts fear they may be too scared to return.
Thousands of shops, department stores and shopping centres can open from June 15, while outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to open from next Monday as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.
But things will look very different in the revamped stores, with checkouts behind screens, toilets and changing rooms closed, a limit on the number of customers allowed inside the store at any time and no seating available.
Stores will also feature markings outside to assist with socially-distanced queuing and encourage customers to shop alone where possible, according to union-backed guidance issued by the British Retail Consortium.
It comes as John Lewis today announced plans to reopen some of its department stores next month, but would not confirm an exact date for when all stores would open across the UK. Bosses said social distancing measures used in its Waitrose stores have ‘informed’ its preparations for the department stores.
Simialrly, Marks & Spencer bosses have been guided by the safety measures employed in their own cafés when reopening stores. Dozens of the retailer’s food outlets reopened for takeaway only on May 15.
Retailers are gearing up for what has been dubbed the ‘sale of the century’ with about £15billion worth of stock available after clothing stores shut their doors just days after filling their rails with spring and summer fashion.
Next and M&S are among the retailers expected to promote huge discounts, with warehouse storage space 90 per cent full for some outlets who have resorted to putting products in containers on railway sidings.
It comes as:
- Bosses of shopping centres said they were better placed to ensure social distancing than narrow high streets;
- Car dealerships – which will open on June 1 reported a ‘considerable’ rise in online sales during the lockdown;
- Aldi supermarket bosses are putting traffic lights at store entrances as a new way of limiting shopper numbers;
- Stores continued to provide hints of mass clearance sales to deal with warehouses full of unsold stock;
- Retail experts said consumers were still concerned about travelling to big shopping centres post-lockdown;
- Ministers were accused of rushing out the shops strategy to deflect from criticism over Dominic Cummings’s apparent breach of lockdown rules;
- Two thirds of Germans do not expect the economy to recover in the next 12 months, suggesting Europeans are holding on to their money rather than going out and spending it.
Retail analyst Catherine Shuttleworth, from the Savvy marketing agency, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘It is fine saying the stores can open, but are we going to have the appetite to go back?
This graphic shows some of the changes that may be made to ensure reopening stores can minimise the spread of the virus
‘What we’ve seen during the lockdown is that people have shopped locally a bit more often. I think people will be concerned about going into big centres, places where they’ve got to get transport.
‘We’ve been really quite pleased with the way that we’ve been able to get our non-food items online – and online sales have gone through the roof.
Which shops will be opening – and what places will stay shut?
- Garden centres
- Takeaway/delivery food outlets
- Outdoor markets
- Car showrooms
- Indoor markets
- Clothing and shoe shops
- Toy stores
- Furniture shops (although some have already been slowly opening over the Bank Holiday with strict social distancing in place)
- Electronics stores
- Photography studios
- Auction houses
Staying shut for now
- Restaurants, bars and pubs
- Cafes and canteens
- Holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs
- Hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons
- Playgrounds, outdoor gyms and outdoor pools
- Piercing and tattoo parlours
- Caravan parks (commercial)
- Community centres
- Places of worship
- Museums and galleries
- Cinemas, theatres and concert halls
- Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops
- Spas and massage parlours
- Skating rinks and funfairs
- Indoor fitness studios, gyms and swimming pools
- Indoor arcades, bowling alleys and soft play centres
‘Shopping is a social, fun experience a lot of the time and social distancing takes that away. It’s going to be a very different way of shopping from what we’re used to.’
Some retailers could follow Aldi, which is putting traffic lights at store entrances as a new way of limiting shopper numbers. Customers can enter when the lights turn from red to green, which will open the automatic doors.
The lights will roll out across Britain this week after a trial in ten branches. The supermarket is encouraging emergency service workers to go to the front of the queue, and asking other customers to respect this priority.
Many outlets will also be expected to provide cleaning stations at the front of store including hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes for basket handles and the regularl cleaning of key touch points such as handrails.
Other safety measures include storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back on the shop floor, and placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas.
The Government said non-essential shops including those selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics can open on June 15, along with tailors, auction houses, photography studios and indoor markets.
Businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment. Spot checks will be carried out and local authorities will work with the Government to ensure complaints by the public are followed up on.
Announcing the measures last night, Mr Johnson said he was hoping for an economic ‘bounce back’. He said: ‘I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready.
‘It is very early days but we are very much hoping there will be a bounce back over the course of the next few months.’
He said the UK was coming to a ‘difficult change of gears’ and that it was ‘absolutely vital’ members of the public maintained social distancing.
Shops must meet guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, Mr Johnson added.
He warned that powers were in place to enforce action if shops did not adhere to guidelines, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.
NOTTINGHAM: Shoppers at Furniture Village store in Nottingham at the Castle Marina Retail Park today. Furniture shops are among those that will be allowed to fully reopen on June 15, but some, including Dunelm and DFS, have already been reopening since Friday as part of the general easing of lockdown. They have managed to do with by insisting staff wear PPE and check all customers’ temperatures before they were allowed to shop
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy and will support millions of jobs across the UK.
Aldi launches traffic light system for socially distanced shopping
The traffic light system that Aldi will introduce at its stores
Customers at Aldi will be told when they can safely enter one of its supermarkets by a new traffic light system installed on the doors.
The German budget retailer said that the system would help to continue social distancing in stores by ensuring too many customers are not jostling for space in the aisles.
A green and red light will be erected above the entrances to its stores, and will signal green if customers are allowed to enter, dependent on the amount of shoppers inside at that time.
Aldi confirmed to MailOnline that the doors will remain closed and locked until the light goes green, and it said that trained marshalls will be on patrol in stores at all times ‘if required’ to monitor social distancing.
The system has already been trialled by Aldi.
‘The protection and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and this new system is an accurate and effective way to allow us to control customer numbers in stores,’ said Aldi communications director Richard Thornton.
Like many other supermarkets, Aldi has already installed protective screens at its checkouts and put markers on the floors of the shops to encourage customers to stay more than two metres away from each other.
The German supermarket chain, which has 875 stores across Britain and employs 33,000 people, has also put up ‘sanitation stations’ and advice signs in stores.
‘The guidance we have set out today provides a vital framework to get shops open in a way that is safe for everyone.’
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director general, said: ‘Our shops are doing all they can to keep the public and their staff safe, and we’ve seen many retailers leading from the front with innovative solutions to do just that.
‘As more and more businesses turn their attention to reopening, this guidance will help them plan to do so safely and securely.’
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: ‘This guidance will ensure that independent retailers provide safe environments for employees and customers.’
Hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector will remain closed due to there being a greater risk of transmission due to prolonged person-to-person contact, a Government spokesman said.
At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting the PM reportedly said garden parties and BBQs with limited numbers could be allowed at the end of next month.
This would be accompanied by several preconditions but could be part of a move to allow people to mix in ‘social bubbles’ of up to ten people outdoors.
A No 10 source said on Sunday that the UK still had some way to go before ‘social bubbles’ were allowed.
National Trust parks will also be allowed to reopen but their indoor spaces will have to remain shut, it is understood.
A major part of phase two is the gradual reopening of schools, which the PM has confirmed will go ahead despite opposition from the unions.
The test and trace system is set to launch at the end of this week, which the Government hopes will enable them to ease lockdown restrictions further.
Today, the government announced another 134 Covid-related deaths in the UK, bringing the total to 37,048.
Transport data, meanwhile, showed traffic is increasing on Britain’s roads, with rises in Light and Heavy Goods Vehicles suggesting more goods and products are being shifted around the country as shops and stores prepare to reopen.
Britain has stoday recorded another 134 deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid, bringing to total to 37,048
Transport data released by the government today shows traffic is on the rise on Britain’s roads – with increase in Light Goods Vehicles and Heavy Goods Vehicles suggesting more goods are flowing across the country
From quarantining returned items to keeping shoppers two metres apart … how the post-lockdown era will look in shops across Britain
OUTSIDE SHOPS – Separate entrance/exits, temporary barriers, floor markings for safe queuing and staff controlling how many people enter stores
Shoppers will be greeted by a very different exterior to many shops in Britain next month, with markings expected to be placed outside all stores – similar to those seen at supermarkets in recent months – to assist with queuing.
A limited number of separate entry and exit points are also being considered, which will also help staff keep on top of the number of customers in the store at any one time to ensure social distancing.
Shops will have to calculate the number of shoppers who can reasonably follow the two-metre rule, based on the size of their store and its layout – with clear signage expected to be placed outside shops to explain this.
Photographs show how shoppers in Italy have been given face masks as they enter stores following that country reopening its shops, while people in Australia and Switzerland have been standing in socially-distanced queues.
SWITZERLAND: People queue to enter a reopened clothes store in Lausanne on Saturday – which has eased its restrictions. The UK will insist that shoppers remain two-metres (six feet) apart when shopping rules are relaxed. The cautious two-metre rule is also used in Switzerland, the US, Spain and Italy, so UK shoppers are likely to face similar scenes outside
ITALY: Shoppers return to stores in Milan on May 20 as they are given masks and Italy activates phase two of its exit strategy – customers are kept one metre apart, with staff wearing mandatory face masks. Customers are also required to wear facemasks. The UK has so far stopped short of insisting the general public wears PPE – but individual retailers have said they will provide it to their own staff
AUSTRALIA: Apple employees manage a socially-distanced queue outside a store in Sydney on May 20 after shops reopened. Under British plans shop floors and queues outside will be marked up with chevrons to encourage shoppers to remain 6ft apart
In the UK, staff will also have to control how many people are entering – and may need to have a Security Industry Authority licence to help manage this. Temporary barriers may also be required to stop people joining a queue.
Nearby shops will also have to work together to manage possible shared queuing areas in busier parts of towns and cities, and encourage customers to shop alone if they can – while noting this is not always possible.
Scott Parsons, the manager of Westfield’s UK shopping centres, said they were better placed than narrow high streets to cope with large customer numbers because people can spread out.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’ve got digital football trackers so we can safely manage crowds as they enter and exit we can impose one way systems and markings on the pavements.’
INSIDE STORES – Hand sanitisers for customers, one-way systems around shops, wiping down basket handles, closing cafes and keeping toilets shut
Ensuring good hygiene and cleaning will be a major part of the reopening plan for shops across Britain, with provision of cleaning stations at the front of the store set to include hand sanitiser for customers.
Workers will also provide disinfectant wipes or spray and tissues for trolley and basket handles, while they will also regularly clean key ‘touch points’ such as door handles, lift buttons, keypads and stair or escalator handrails.
Shoppers will see floor markings to help them comply with the two-metre social distancing rules, with stores advised to place these particularly in the most crowded areas and where queueing is expected.
Boots, which has continued to trade throughout the pandemic, with pharmacies included in the Government’s list of essential retailers, says it will now introduce enhanced safety measures, including upgraded PPE, additional screens at counters and hand sanitising stations as it expects more customers at its high street stores.
The company said it is also launching a new virtual beauty service after temporarily removing testers and face-to-face consultations from stores.
JAPAN: People disinfect their hands today before entering Ueno’s Matsuzakaya department store in Tokyo. Antibacterial hand gel points will be in all UK stores when shops are allowed to reopen and are already provided in most supermarkets
SPAIN: A customer uses disinfectant gel placed on a stand at the entrance of a footwear store in Burgos today. Alongside hand gel shop workers in the UK will also provide disinfectant wipes or spray and tissues for trolley and basket handles. If shoppers try on shoes, the footwear will be quarantined for up to 72 hours
JAPAN: Shoppers enter a one-way system as they wait in line to enter a food section of the Matsuya Ginza department store which partially reopened in Tokyo today. In the UK shops are expected to remove promotional fixtures to help people keep apart, and consider implementing one-way systems using floor markings and signage
AUSTRALIA: Floor markers have been set up inside an Apple store in Sydney on May 20 to ensure shoppers maintain distance. Similar one-way systems have been introduced in UK supermarkets meaning shoppers will be used to the routine when other non-essential stores reopen next month.
AUSTRALIA Wipe-wielding cleaners are now located throughout stores in Australia, including at this Apple store in Sydney. Shops will need to regularly clean multi-person touch points such as product displays, door handles and flushes and taps in communal toilets. UK shoppers can expect to see hand sanitiser gels and wipes for staff and customers inside stores when they reopen next month.
There will also be clear signage in stores reminding customers of these measures, while staff will look at the layout of their stores to ensure aisles and walkways can be kept as clear as possible to ensure social distancing.
Workers could also remove promotional fixtures to help people keep apart, and consider implementing one-way systems using floor markings and signage, as well as making regular announcements to people to follow the rules.
Shops will also have to consider whether it is safe to keep customer toilets open or only on request. If open, they should ensure regular cleaning on multi-person touch points such as door handles, flushes and taps.
Baby changing facilities should be kept available but with a higher frequency of cleaning, while cafes and restaurants will have to stay closed unless they are offering hot or cold food to be consumed off the premises.
Marks & Spencer has reopened dozens of its cafes to takeaway customers and is still selling some clothing from around foodhalls but warned fashion and homeware sales could be 70 per cent lower for the current period. Boss Steve Rowe said last week he intends to reopen more of M&S’s clothing operations from June and will introduce safety measures which have been in place across its open food sites already – where staff have been wearing protective gloves and working behind screens.
Ikea will reopen 19 stores in England and Northern Ireland from June 1, with a series of safety measures, including distancing wardens to patrol stores and reduced customers, while cafes and play areas will remain shut.
Poundland said its reopened stores will have ‘robust’ health and safety measures in place, with door marshals, floor markers to help maintain social distancing, screens at checkouts and no self-checkouts.
TRYING ON ITEMS – Changing rooms closed, footwear quarantined if not bought and returns stored for 72 hours before being put back on display
Shops will consider keeping their changing rooms closed, although if not they should have a worker in place at all times to ensure customers maintain social distancing. Seating will be removed or limited but spaced out in stores.
If products are provided in store to try before buying, such as TVs, headphones or PCs, companies are being urged to consider if it is better for staff to demonstrate these instead of customers touching the item.
Waterstones has said it will put books into a precautionary 72-hour quarantine after they are handled by customers who do not subsequently make a purchase. Staff will ask shoppers to leave any book they touch on trolleys to be wheeled into storage for at least three days.
Services which require direct physical interaction with customers such as make-up or nail bars will not return yet, although specialised advice can be provided if staff follow hygiene and social distancing protocols.
NETHERLANDS: A bride-to-be wears a face mask as part of her dress while trying on her outfit in Rotterdam in Holland today. In the UK shops will consider keeping their changing rooms closed, although if not they should have a worker in place at all times to ensure customers maintain social distancing. Items of clothing like footwear will be quarantined for 72 hours after being worn by customers in the UK too.
USA: Allie Arredonodo, wears a face mask as she tries on shoes at Journey’s store in Yuba City, California, on May 6. .In Britian, some shops will quarantine items when they are returned – and shoe shoppers will be ordered to wear special socks to try footwear. Shoes will then be quarantined for up to 72 hours
Stores which help customers with large or heavy purchases should also they cannot help customers take this to their car – although if they do, they should give correct protection and advice for it to be done safely.
Flood of donations expected as charity shops reopen – but items face 72-hour quarantine
Charity shops are expecting a large volume of donations when they reopen and plan to isolate items for 72 hours before they go on sale as part of measures to ensure the safety of customers.
The Government said charity shops are among retailers that can resume trading from June 15, but at least one charity is saying it will only commit to reopening once it is ‘safe to do so’.
Charities are asking people who have spent time de-cluttering their homes during lockdown not to leave donations outside shops and to be ‘thoughtful’ about when they donate.
The Government is also being urged to give more ‘definitive’ guidelines regarding how long items should be left before being put out on sale.
Oxfam said it is working on a ‘detailed plan’ to enable its shops to reopen but does not currently have a confirmed date, and pointed out that many of its 20,000 shop volunteers are elderly.
FARA said it will only be reopening its shops ‘when each shop is safe to do so as our first priority is the safety of our staff and volunteers, customers and donors’.
The charity, which supports vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in Romania, said: ‘Clearly the handling of donated goods by our staff, volunteers and customers presents a particular concern and we are looking at a range of measures to reduce the risk of handling donations.
‘This includes quarantining donations for 72 hours from the time they are donated, implementing an even more thorough cleaning regime in our shops, steam-cleaning all clothing thoroughly, offering hand sanitiser to all visitors on entrance to our stores, asking customers not to touch items while in store unless they are ready to buy, closing our dressing rooms for use for a period of time, to name but a few.’
Traid (Textile Reuse and International Development) is planning a phased reopening of its charity shops around June 18, beginning with the most spacious stores in Dalston, Kilburn, Peckham and Shepherd’s Bush.
The British Heart Foundation said ‘a small number’ of its shops will reopen from mid-June with measures in place including ‘social distancing measures, protective equipment for staff and volunteers and the safe collection and processing of donated items’.
The charity’s retail director, Allison Swaine-Hughes, said: ‘Once these new ways of working are established, we will continue to reopen our 750 nationwide shops and stores over the following weeks.’
Shoe shops will ‘quarantine’ any footwear which is tried on but not bought to make sure they meet the rules on keeping customers safe, with Kurt Geiger saying it would bring in the rules to open shops next month.
Customers will also be asked to wear disposable ‘pop’ socks before trying on shoes in some stores. Any items not bought will be put in isolated storage for at least 24 hours before going back on display.
In addition, shops will be expected to store returned items for 72 hours before putting them back on the shop floor, and placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas.
This follows similar moves from Waterstones, which has said it will quarantine books handled by customers for 72 hours, and John Lewis, which has said it will quarantine clothes that shoppers try on.
Waterstones has said it will put books into a precautionary 72-hour quarantine after they are handled by customers who do not subsequently make a purchase, in one of the more unusual reopening measures.
Staff will ask shoppers to leave any book they touch on trolleys to be wheeled into storage for at least three days. Screens, customer limits and one-way systems will be in place but cafes will remain closed.
Charity shops are expecting a large volume of donations when they reopen and also plan to isolate items for 72 hours before they go on sale.
Cabinet Office Michael Gove said today that customers will have to ‘exercise restraint’ by not trying on clothing and testing goods when stores reopen, telling BBC Breakfast that shopping habits will have to change.
He said: ‘It is a new normal, but it will allow us to ensure there are a wider range of goods and will also ensure the economy can return to a new normal, that is absolutely vital for people’s jobs.’
Robert Forrester, chief executive of car dealership Vertu Motors, said his firm has set up new safety measures at showrooms. He told BBC Breakfast: ‘When you actually go for a test drive, you will be the only person in the car.
‘We trust the vast majority of our customers to do the right thing. There are a lot of changes in how we sell cars. People are doing far more on the internet. Our online sales have gone up quite considerably over the period.’
The pharmacy chain Boots has continued to trade throughout the pandemic. It has kept the majority of its stores open, excluding sites at travel destinations such as train stations, after introducing visors and PPE for staff.
The retailer said it will now introduce enhanced safety measures, including upgraded PPE, additional screens at counters and hand sanitising stations, as it expects to welcome more customers at its high street stores.
The company said it is also launching a new virtual beauty service after temporarily removing testers and face-to-face consultations from stores.
AT THE CHECKOUT – Plastic screens for cashiers, opening every other till point and asking customers to avoid cash when paying
Shops will erect physical barriers at till points using flexiplastic to provide a barrier for those working on the tills, and every over till point will be closed if they are located near each other.
Non-essential doors will be left open to minimise the number of people who touch them – although this does not apply to fire doors, while stores will look at limiting the number of people in enclosed spaces such as lifts.
GERMANY: Shoppers wear face masks at the KaDeWe department store in Berlin on the first day it fully reopened on May 5. Similar scenes are expected at tills in Britain, with some already appearing at supermakets and petrol stations across the UK.
Some stores in the UK are already taking the measure. Shoppers speak to a worker behind a protective screen at the checkout of a B&Q in Chiswick, West London, on April 30
Customer order collection points will be set up to ensure people stay two metres apart with floor markings or a limit on the number of those allowed to wait – while product demonstrations will also now be unlikely to happen.
Stores will also encourage cashless purchases, and any self-checkout touchscreens or keypads should be wiped between each use to minimise the risk of customers transfering the virus between each other.
How Europe has gone back to the shops: Mask wearing, temperature checks, plexiglass shields and limits on customers are all deployed to stop spread of virus as UK prepares for June 15 resumption
- The UK’s plan to re-open shops on June 15 comes more than two months after Austria started opening stores
- Safety measures include compulsory masks, plexiglass screens and maximum numbers of people in shops
- Some Italian stores say they will not get enough business because there are still few tourists and commuters
Europe’s shops have imposed a long list of health restrictions since stores began to re-open, with shoppers on the continent already used to the masks, screens and distancing measures which may soon appear in Britain.
Boris Johnson announced yesterday that non-essential stores could open in the UK from June 15, more than two months after Austria started re-opening small shops on April 14.
Some countries such as Italy and Germany have ordered compulsory mask-wearing, while others have merely recommended them or left it up to individual shops to decide.
Protective measures elsewhere include plexiglass shields between staff and customers in Portugal, marked-out social distancing lines in Belgium and removal of seating areas in Germany.
There are also limits on the number of people entering shops in Germany and Austria, along with temperature checks at a fish market in Italy – while a bride-to-be tried on a wedding dress with a matching white face mask in the Netherlands today.
Countries such as Germany and Denmark have not seen a new surge in cases since they started to lift the lockdown, but retail experts in Britain fear that people will still be too afraid to resume shopping.
Some shop owners in Italy have already staged protests over a lack of government support, saying the lack of tourists and commuters mean footfall is still low despite the lifting of lockdown measures.
PORTUGAL: Masked customers take their goods from behind a plexiglass shield at a bakery in Lisbon last week, with the staff member on the other side wearing a mask and face shield to protect against infection
GERMANY: Customers wearing masks shop at a DIY store in Munich last month when Germany began to ease the lockdown, watched by a staff member also wearing a mask
FRANCE: People queue in cordoned-off lines in Bordeaux as they wait to enter an Ikea furniture store on its re-opening
NETHERLANDS: This bride-to-be has a face mask to match her wedding dress as she is fitted at a bridal store in Rotterdam today which has re-opened after the coronavirus lockdown
ITALY: A health worker aims a body temperature scanner at a customer wearing a mask in Catania, where a fish market was allowed to re-open earlier this month with appropriate safety measures
SWITZERLAND: People stand behind a barrier at an outdoor flower stall in Lausanne on Saturday, with not all customers wearing masks which are not compulsory in Switzerland
BELGIUM: A security guard wearing a mask enforces social distancing as people queue outside a store in Brussels on the first weekend after lockdown measures were eased
DENMARK: A sign at a Copenhagen shopping centre welcomes customers back but tells them to wash their hands, keep their distance and catch their coughs to avoid the spread of Covid-19
NEW ZEALAND: Signs are laid out on the floor of this shop in Christchurch, telling people where to queue at the till in order to maintain a safe distance
JAPAN: Face masks are on sale by the box along a shopping street in Tokyo today after the country lifted its state of emergency after a fall in cases
Italy first re-opened a handful of shops in mid-April including bookshops and children’s clothes stores, although some were kept shut by regional governments.
Other stores have re-opened this month along with cafes, restaurants and hairdressers, but some shop owners have decided to remain closed because many of their customers are still working from home.
‘We have so many clients who work in offices,’ said Tatjana Pavelic, a restaurant owner in Rome. ‘And tourism hasn’t started even for Italians.’
Since May 4, masks have been mandatory throughout Italy ‘in closed spaces that are accessible to the public’, including shops.
In addition, the use of disposable gloves is ‘recommended in purchasing activities, particularly for the purchase of food and beverages’.
Italians had already started taking the safety distance to heart in the early days of the lockdown by carrying rulers and marking out lines where people should queue.
Some staff members were seen wearing full protective suits and masks as they prepared their shops for re-opening last month.
At the high-end women’s clothing shop Spazioespanso in central Rome, manager Alberto Volpe said it will be difficult to adapt to new routines, spaces and rules.
‘The challenge is huge, so big it is hard to quantify, and most of all there is uncertainty. The sense of uncertainty is dominating everything,’ he said.
Small shop owners joined taxi drivers in a protest in Milan on Saturday, with banners that said ‘I’m not opening today to go bankrupt tomorrow’.
ITALY: This clothes shop worker was wearing a full protective suit similar to that worn by medics and health workers as he inspected the goods at his store in Rome last month
ITALY: Both hairdresser and customer are wearing masks and a protective suit in this barber’s shop in Rome, with the salon owner also wearing a face shield with a visor
SICILY: A man wearing a green face mask has his temperature checked as he enters a historic fish market in Catania earlier this month
FRANCE: These shoppers were queuing outside an Ikea store in Strasbourg yesterday where the furniture giant has told people to wear masks and keep their distance
FRANCE: Customers were made welcome by Bordeaux IKEA staff applauding them on their return, with hand sanitiser made available and people told to queue by themselves at information points and tills
FRANCE: People queue to enter a photocopying shop in Nantes today, keeping their distance as they wait outside
PORTUGAL: This customer spoke to a masked vendor through a plexiglass screen at a shop in Lisbon earlier this month on the first day of Portugal’s phased re-opening of the economy
In Germany, garden centres and bicycle dealers were among the stores to re-open in the second half of April, with customers queuing at a distance outside hardware stores.
Detailed health rules are decided by the 16 states, but all of them have made masks compulsory in shops and on public transport.
Berlin has specified a limit of one person per 20 square metres in retail stores, (216 sq ft) in addition to the usual 1.5m (5ft) safety distance.
Shop owners in the German capital must also remove any ‘incentives’ to stay in the store for longer than necessary, such as seating areas.
There is also a limit of 10 people in any ‘waiting area’ at one time, including at the tills. Fines for breaking the rules can be up to €2,500 in shops and €10,000 in shopping centres.
Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia has imposed a slightly looser benchmark of one person per 10 square metres (108 sq ft).
Shops in the region, which includes large cities such as Cologne and Dortmund, are also required to impose their own rules for ‘avoiding queues’.
A survey of German business owners in May found confidence among retailers had improved considerably from record lows in April as lockdown measures were eased, but was still far below average.
Meanwhile a separate survey showed that a third of Germans still fear being infected by coronavirus, despite the country enjoying relative success in keeping the death toll down.
NETHERLANDS: A bride-to-be – who is due to get married in August this year – tries on her wedding dress with its matching white face mask at a store in Rotterdam today
BELGIUM: This shop worker was drawing out lines on the pavement outside his store in Brussels to make sure people keep their distance when they queue to enter
BELGIUM: A customer waits in a cordoned-off queuing area – with spaces marked out for people to wait at a distance – outside a shop in Neuve Street in Brussels earlier this month
GERMANY: A protective shield was put in place at this pharmacy in the city of Jena, which was among the first places in Europe to order compulsory mask-wearing – observed by both customer and pharmacist here
GERMANY: A customer uses a sanitising gel to disinfect his hands at a shop in Munich last month, with Germany limiting the number of people allowed in shops and states setting their own specific rules
AUSTRIA: Shop workers behind a plexiglass shield at a store in Vienna earlier this month, after Austria became one of the first countries in the world to re-open shops following a coronavirus lockdown
AUSTRIA: A hairdresser disinfects a chair at a salon in Vienna, after the Austrian government allowed stores to re-open with some limits on the number of people allowed inside
Neighbouring Austria was among the first in the world to re-open shops, with customers queuing outside hardware stores in compulsory masks as early as April 14.
Austria has a limit of one person per 10 square metres (108 sq ft), with masks or face shields compulsory unless people are separated by a screen or in some other way.
Peter Buchmueller of Austria’s chamber of commerce warned that it would ‘take a bit of time before it eventually gets back to normal’, with some people likely to be too worried about catching the virus.
The country’s health minister boasted earlier this month that the re-opening had been handled ‘excellently’ with ‘no indication of a noticeable increase’ in virus cases.
Belgium allowed shoppers to return in early May, with a cordon system in place to create one-way routes and stop pedestrians from bumping into each other.
People are instructed to go shopping by themselves unless they need assistance, and are told to spend no more than 30 minutes in any one store.
There is also a limit of one person per 10 square metres (108 sq ft), and masks are recommended although not compulsory as they are on public transport.
Shoppers were greeted by ‘welcome back’ signs as well as hand sanitisers, gloves, police patrols, and also long queues.
There were also mini-roundabouts on pedestrian streets to allow people to change direction without meeting a tide of oncoming people.
DENMARK: One shop dummy at a store in Copenhagen bore a sign telling people to ‘look out for each other’ by maintaining social distancing while they browse the wares
SWITZERLAND: This woman had sanitising gel sprayed on her hands by a shop assistant – with both customer and staff member wearing masks – at a store in Geneva earlier this month
SWITZERLAND: Customers queue to buy flowers for Mother’s Day earlier this month at a shop in Geneva, waiting outside with numbers limited in the store – although the national government has not set specific guidelines
SWITZERLAND: People wait outside a Louis Vuitton fashion store in Geneva after it re-opened following the coronavirus lockdown measures
In France, IKEA furniture stores opened again this week with people queuing in taped-off areas outside one store in Bordeaux as though waiting to enter a theme park ride.
Rules on mask-wearing are left to individual retailers, but IKEA says that customers aged 11 or over must cover their faces, while observing a 1.5m (5ft) safety distance.
The shops will continue to keep their restaurants closed while people are instructed to come alone if possible and wait by themselves at information points and cash desks.
Switzerland has adopted a more localised model, with no overarching rules handed down from the federal government and regional authorities told to supervise shops.
Customers at a market in Lausanne have been seen waiting behind barriers to stop people crowding around a flower stall outdoors, while shop assistants were spraying hand sanitiser in Geneva.
Meanwhile the Netherlands allowed hairdressers to reopen on May 11, provided staff wore personal protective equipment including gloves and masks.
Shops are required to limit the number of people inside – allowing only as many people indoors as can be kept 1.5m (5ft) apart.
However, the government says it is ‘impossible for the government to take decisions or introduce measures that provide a solution for every business and answer everyone’s questions’.
In the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, shop staff were pictured standing behind protective shields when retailers reopened on May 4.
Bakery workers in Lisbon wore both masks and face shields and handed customers their products through plexiglass screens.
Shops face losing access to government support if they do not open within eight days of being allowed to do so, but some businesses have reported only a trickle of customers.