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11 steps for safer shopping as more stores reopen in Suffolk and north Essex

PUBLISHED: 12:18 31 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:34 08 June 2020

Ipswich town centre has been very quiet during the lockdown. How can it win back the shoppers? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich town centre has been very quiet during the lockdown. How can it win back the shoppers? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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How can customers shop safely when more shops in Suffolk and Essex reopen their doors?

John Lewis at Home, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJohn Lewis at Home, Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Car showrooms and outdoor markets are being allowed to open from June 1, and other non-essential stores from June 15, provided they have strong social distancing guidelines in place.

Some major stores, such as John Lewis and Primark, have announced their opening dates, while others, like Debenhams, have not yet announced theirs.

Here is your guide to the main changes stores will be making, and what we can all do to protect ourselves.

Think about where to park

It could be hard to maintain social distancing in some busy shop car parks. Shops are being advised to try to provide additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks where possible. Depending on shops’ locations, it may also be advisable to park further away and walk.

READ MORE- Where can I shop? A handy guide to which shops are reopening

Shop alone if possible

Supermarkets are already asking people to shop on their own if possible, and other shops are being advised to do the same, to make social distancing easier.

Some shops are asking customers only to visit if they intend to buy and avoid going shopping just to browse.

Follow markings and one-way systems

Again following the lead of supermarkets, shops will be using paint or tape to create 2m distancing marks on their floors and many will have one-way systems for customers.

Some towns are also expected to introduce one-way systems for shoppers in their main streets. Southwold has already proposed bringing in a one-way system for the town centre. Ipswich Borough Council has unveiled proposals to change some road layouts to make social distancing easier, which will include a “keep left” pedestrian scheme and closing Upper Brook Street to pedestrians during the day.

READ MORE - Road closure and ‘Keep Left’ signs coming in as Ipswich eases lockdown

Queuing outside stores

As with supermarkets, other stores will be bringing in limits on the numbers of customers who can go in at any one time, to enable social distancing. This may mean joining a queue outside. Shops are being advised to manage queues, with barriers and staff members directing them.

Booking collection slots

If you are queuing to collect items ordered online, shops may let you book a slot and stagger times to make this easier.

When buying takeaway food, government advice is to place your order by telephone, app or online and get a designated time for collection.

You may also want to watch:

READ MORE - What preparations are shops making to reopen?

Clean hands and avoid handling products

Hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser stations should be available in store, but you may also want to take your own sanitiser or wipes with you.

Shoppers are being advised to encourage customers avoid handling items while browsing, if at all possible, as this could potentially transmit infection. With items such as loose fruit and veg and other foods, try to only handle what you are going to buy.

No trying on clothes

Although clothes shops are being allowed to reopen from June 15, for hygiene reasons, they will have to keep their changing rooms closed.

Trying on clothes will only be allowed where it is essential - for instance, if key workers are buying protective clothing which must fit properly.

No testing make-up and other products

Make-up testers are also being temporarily removed from stores, and you also won’t be able to try out other products before you buy, for instance handling a phone. Beds and furniture should have protective coverings that can be cleaned.

Customer services which can’t be carried out without contravening social distancing guidelines are also being suspended.

Handling returns safely

Not being able to try on clothes may potentially lead to more items being returned. Shops are being advised to take a range of safety measures including having drop-off points for returns and giving contactless refunds.

Retailers are being asked to store returned items for 72 hours or alternatively clean them before they are put back on display.

Contactless payments

Retailers have been encouraged to use contactless payments where possible.

Shops should also frequently clean self-checkouts and trolleys.

Wearing face coverings

Government advice is to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces, including some shops where social distancing may be difficult as well as public transport. However, we are all being asked to use homemade cloth masks and not buy surgical masks or respirators, which are being prioritised for healthcare workers.

READ MORE - Face masks: Everything you need to know


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