From 15 June, all non-essential shops are able to open following the government easing the coronavirus pandemic lockdown measures, but for consumers who have visited very few or no physical stores since the crisis hit there is one big question, is it safe to shop?

To assist and guide businesses in understanding how to prepare for reopening and to trade safely the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published Working safely during COVID-19 in shops and branches on its website. It is a step-by-step guide for businesses to understand how to provide a safe environment for customers.

Potential customers will want to see evidence that store owners have done all they can to allow returning shoppers to have the confidence to break down the invisible barriers that have been created around them.

With more stores for the shoppers who have continued to use their local newsagent and convenience store they will have more choice. These are the people who have learned how to shop in a safe way and have become used to the measures that supermarkets, convenience stores, newsagents, Post Offices and pharmacists have brought in during the coronavirus lockdown.

Read more: Wholesalers revise safety rules as lockdown eases

For essential businesses social distancing, hand sanitisers, screens, face masks and face shields have become everyday practices. The rest of the retail community is having to work out what is right and create effective policies to deliver this.

The HSE along with the local council environmental health departments will no doubt be out checking that stores are meeting their obligations to their customers and employees.

Although essential stores have continued to trade and create the safe working practices to meet the needs of trading in the pandemic, it would be sensible to review your coronavirus store policies to ensure that they are still in line with the current guidance. The HSE has warned that inspectors may close sites and businesses if they fail to toe the line.

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