The CMO issued this message to retailers about the need to robustly apply Covid health and safety measures in store to assist in managing the new highly contagious Omicron variant:
“Given the current epidemiological situation and the expected impact of the Omicron variant over the coming weeks, it is absolutely critical that those sectors that remain open are robustly applying the full range of protective measures to ensure safe environments for staff and customers. It can be expected that retail will remain busy over the Christmas/New Year period so it will be important that there is continuing engagement and communications with the retail sector and the public in relation to measures that should be in place".
In particular, messaging should highlight:
- The need for effective controls on the numbers accessing retail premises to ensure physical distancing can be maintained – at previous stages of the pandemic there were very visible controls on doors of retail premises and this should be re-instated. Wherever possible, there should be separate entrance and exits to help control the flow of customers.
- The avoidance of specific inducements, such as in-store post-Christmas sales, which could promote an increase in numbers attending
- A physical distancing in queues outside stores.
- Strict application of mask wearing requirements.
- The promotion, provision and maintenance of hygiene stations and enhanced cleaning measures throughout stores, including provision of hand sanitiser at entrance of stores.
- Ensuring good ventilation, including maximising fresh air coming into the premises.
- Use of tannoy systems, signs, floor markings and queue management systems to help people keep a safe distance from others particularly at potential pinch-points of congregation like tills.
- Ensuring staff are not presenting for work if "symptomatic.”