PPE, Face Coverings and Face Masks for Retail Environments and Shops

If you are the owner or person responsible for a retail business, protecting yourself, your staff, and your customers during the Coronavirus is a top priority.

It’s essential to enable shops, workplaces, and retail environments to open safely while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19.  The specific actions required may be different for retail businesses, depending on their size, nature of their business, and how they are organised and managed.

To help you decide what actions are appropriate, completing a COVID-19 risk assessment is a good place to start to be able to assess and manage the risks for staff and customers.  A risk assessment is more about identifying sensible measures and if you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down.

What else can the retail sector do to help operate safely?

How to help retail staff with social distancing?

Consider the maximum number of people who can safely work within your retail business, this may be less than usual. Having clearly designated positions in order for staff to provide advice or assistance to customers whilst maintaining social distance is important.

Taking retail workers’ temperature upon arrival will also help ensure all staff is well to work and precautionary action can be taken if necessary.

If social distancing guidelines cannot be followed there are other actions retail businesses can take to protect retail store workers, including:-

• Increased hand washing/sanitising
• Frequent surface cleaning
• Use of screens to create a physical barrier between staff and/or customers
• Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’
• Stagger break times, arrival and departure times of staff

How to keep retail customers safe?

By calculating the maximum number of customers that can follow social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) within your shop or retail environment will help limit customers to a safe number within your store.

Requesting customers to use the hand sanitiser provided when entering a shop and having notices regarding touching products while browsing will assist with reducing the risk of transmission. If possible, introduce a one-way system to reduce congestion and contact between customers.

Provide clear guidance in the way of signage and visual aids to help remind customers to wear face coverings and masks when shopping.

What PPE and face masks are required in a retail business?

The PPE necessary will depend on the type of retail business. Face masks, face visors, and gloves may be required for some retail shop environments and those who provide close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians.

Face coverings are also mandatory for the general public on public transport and for customers in shops and supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices, premises providing professional, legal, or financial services, auction houses, and where food or drink is purchased at a take-away outlet.

Retail staff is also now required to wear face masks in areas that are open to the public and where they come in close contact with the public.

People are also being encouraged to wear a face-covering or face mask in other enclosed public spaces if social distancing is difficult.


Do retail staff have to wear a face mask?

From 24th September 2020, it will be compulsory for retail, leisure, and hospitality staff to wear a face-covering in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public. This includes shops, supermarkets, bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, banks, estate agents, post offices, and the public areas of hotels and hostels.

Are there exemptions for wearing face masks in shops?

Are there exemptions for wearing face masks in shops?

Yes. Children under the age of 11, people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, police officers, and other emergency workers and if you are assisting someone who relies on lip-reading. Face coverings are not required in restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs.

Many people feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering, whether this is an exemption card, badge, or even a home-made sign. No one who is exempt from wearing a face-covering should be denied entry if they are not wearing one.

What extra measures can be taken to keep retail environments clean?

Frequent cleaning of all objects and surfaces that are touched regularly should be done. Typically, within retail environments, this includes self-checkouts, shopping baskets, trolleys, staff handheld devices, card machines, door handles, touch screens, rails, shelves, toilets, and changing rooms if in use.

Government advice states that fitting rooms should be closed wherever possible given the challenges in operating them safely or if not be cleaned very frequently and if possible, between each use.

There should also be a procedure to manage clothes that have been tried on, such as delaying their return to the shop floor.

Face Masks And Other PPE For Retail

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*All information on this page should be used as basic guidance only, you must refer to the Government Guidelines for up to date information.