HIGH street stores will be expected to introduce strict social distancing measures when their doors are re-opened.

New guidelines have been issued for retailers, such as clothing, furniture and department stores, ahead of the expected relaxing of restrictions on non-essential shops.

During the lockdown only shops such as pharmacies, supermarkets and DIY stores have been open, with precautions in place such as letting a limited number of customers allowed in at one time.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has now issued the guidance for other types of shops so they will be able to “operate safely” once

restrictions are relaxed.

It states: “It is not clear when the non-food retail sector will re-open for business and the final decision on this will be made by government and the public health experts.

“However, we need to be ready

and as we start to prepare for the re-opening of stores it is likely that some virus control restrictions will continue to be necessary to limit transmission.”

The BRC says the recommendations are based on the experience of food retailers who have been operating social distancing in stores for a number of weeks. Advice includes limiting the number of customers in the store, placing markings outside the store to assist correct queue spacings and encouraging customers to shop alone “wherever possible”.

Other measures to protect staff include having regular handwashing breaks, staggering times and breaks to avoid crowding and having sufficient supplies of gloves, masks and visors for employees who need them.

The BRC document says the

guidelines are “non-exhaustive”.

It adds: “It is the responsibility of each business to decide the most appropriate methods to implement social distancing and other coronavirus control measures in their


“Over and above these specific recommendations there should be open dialogue with colleagues to reassure them and discuss any concerns about the safety of their role.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Our members in pharmacy, grocery and the retailing of pet food have shown during this crisis that it is possible to operate safely and responsibly in this new environment, regardless of the size of premises.

“They’ve invested significantly over a very short period in social distancing and other health and hygiene measures in order to protect staff and customers.

“It will help customers understand changes to their usual shopping routine and indeed what is expected of them too.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of shop workers’ union Usdaw, which helped draw up the guidelines, said: “Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees.

“However, we need to be ready and we need to make sure that the proper preparations and measures are put

in place.”