NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s encouragement for businesses to “have a go” and reopen if they can adhere to social distancing rules has been welcomed by the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) as a boost of confidence for both consumers and the retail industry.

Her comments follow the release of the Retail Recovery Protocol for COVID-19 last week by Australia’s key retail industry groups, including the SCCA.

The Protocol was designed to assure the community, including retail employees and customers, that retailers and shopping centres will continue to follow stringent public health guidelines when current restrictions are gradually eased.

Jointly released by SCCA, the National Retail Association (NRA), Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and Australian Retailers Association (ARA), the Protocol hopes to provide a consistent, practical and public-health led guide for shopping centres and retailers that continue to trade, are re- opening or are preparing to re-open.

It outlines key actions that retailers and shopping centre could take, including the following:

  • Making alcohol-based hand sanitiser available at key locations such as store entrances, building entrances, customer service desks and food courts,
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of regularly used objects and hard surfaces (e.g. payment registers, ETFPOS machines, hand-rails, bathroom door handles, shelves, shopping trolleys, counters and benches, food-court tables, staff-rooms) and other key hygiene measures (e.g. waste disposal).
  • Facilitating and encouraging social distancing and public gathering limits in accordance with Government directions, which is currently a distance of 1.5m and a limit of no more than 1 person per 4 square metres in stores. Actions could include signage ‘reminders’, one-way queueing, ground markings (e.g. stickers or tape) for customer queues, and
  • Daily check-ins with staff on their well-being, ensure staff and contractors are properly trained and have access to relevant information and personal protective equipment (PPE).

SCCA CEO Angus Nardi said: “As more people return to shopping centres, we want to assure the community our industry is working hand-in-hand to ensure that strict public health guidelines are followed and that we provide a safe, healthy and secure environment.”

ARA CEO Paul Zahra commented, “Retailers have made an enormous effort to protect staff and shoppers, working tirelessly to create a safe and healthy in environment through the lockdown period and now as most businesses prepare to reopen and serve their customers. This protocol provides the clarity and consistency that retailers are looking for at this time around best-practice.”

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb added, “As more retail stores start to reopen, which will see a surge in customer demand, the community should have confidence their health and safety is a priority for retailers including how they purchase goods and interact with staff.”

This article was first published on retailbiz.com.au.

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