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Source: Waitrose

The retailer has enforced a set of new measures after Boris Johnson announced a lockdown across the UK

  • A dedicated marshal at each outlet will help manage queues and remind customers of social distancing rules

  • Protective screens will be installed around checkouts, following a move by Morrisons yesterday

  • Where two checkouts are back to back, one will close to maintain social distancing between staff


Waitrose is limiting the number of customers allowed in its stores at one time in response to the prime minister’s strict new measures on social distancing to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

From today, the retailer will also introduce dedicated marshals for each outlet to help to manage queues outside and, if necessary, remind customers to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

Protective checkout screens are being installed around checkouts to protect staff, who will also be given the option to wear special visors. It follows Morrisons installing protective screens at checkouts across its shop estate.

The new measures from Waitrose have been introduced after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown across the UK, with citizens to only leave their homes for infrequent food shopping, exercise once a day, health or care reasons and to travel to work where “absolutely necessary”.

One senior industry source said it was vital supermarkets acted quickly to reduce shopper traffic in store.

“It seems absolutely ridiculous that at a time when we are in lockdown, there are major congregations of people crowding into supermarkets,” the source added.

“I’m pleased Waitrose is acting on this and I think there will be huge pressure on others to follow suit.”


Waitrose social distancing measures in full:

  • Limiting customer numbers in shops: Limits will be specific to each branch based on the number of tills, with shop managers to use their judgment on customer numbers. When the shop is at capacity it will operate a one-in, one-out policy.
  • Two-metre marshals: Marshals will help manage queues outside shops and, if necessary, remind customers to respect the two-metre social distancing rule. There will be signage and a coned area instructing customers to queue two metres apart outside shops.
  • Social distancing management in all shops: Floor signage will be introduced in all shops to ensure customers keep two metres apart when queueing at checkouts and at welcome desks. These will read ‘Leave space. Leave safe. Help us to protect you’.
  • Checkout screens for tills: Screens have been ordered to protect staff and customers from infected moisture droplets.
  • Fewer checkouts: In order to enable staff working in the shop to maintain social distancing where two checkouts are back to back, one will close.
  • Special protective visors: Visors are being ordered and will be available to staff to create a protective guard to stop infected moisture droplets being absorbed through the mouth, nose or eyes.
  • New lift instructions: Only one customer or family should occupy a lift at any one time.
  • Cashless and contactless drive: More customers will be encouraged to shop in a “cashless and contactless” way to prevent unnecessary contact. Staff will guide customers where possible to use Waitrose Quick Check self-service technology and contactless card payments.

“The health of our partners and customers has always been our number one priority and we fully support social distancing,” said Bérangère Michel, executive director, customer service at John Lewis Partnership.

“While these measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment, they are absolutely vital to ensure our customers can shop safely and our partners are protected as they go above and beyond to serve shoppers in this time of crisis.”

Responding to the prime minister’s announcement last night, Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers understand the need for government to act quickly and decisively to protect public health and combat coronavirus.

“The safety of customers and staff is paramount, which is why retailers have responded swiftly and positively to evolving government guidance on social distancing and other hygiene matters. Indeed, many retailers had gone further and already closed shops temporarily.

“Others have continued to provide essential products and services to their customers, both from physical stores and online. Any retailers that remain open will be following the very latest government public health guidance to ensure they do everything they can to ensure the safety of customers and staff.

“The public also has a vital role to play in maintaining lifesaving social distancing practices, both in and out of stores. We must all be considerate of the needs of those around us, and respectful of the retail staff who are working around the clock to put food and other essential items on our shelves and into our homes.”