Supermarkets may soon scrap COVID shopping restrictions depending on Government talks

Supermarkets 'must protect their customers' says Malthouse

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Supermarket bosses are to hold talks with the Government in the coming days to discuss the removal of social distancing measures currently in place in stores. According to the bosses, figures showed that the measures were having major impact on footfall.

As well as social distancing measures, supermarket bosses will speak to government officials about a possible end to mandatory mask wearing.

According to the heads of the UK’s major supermarkets, the shopping restrictions currently in place in all British stores are impacting footfall.

Figures showed that fewer people were shopping in supermarkets due to the one metre-plus rule and other measures such as number limitations and shoppers having to wear face coverings.

Because of this, retail executives want to set a timeframe for many of the measures to be removed.

The Government is currently reviewing social distance restrictions and other rules ahead of June 21, when it plans to further ease lockdown measures, or get rid of them completely.

However, supermarket bosses want to lift shopping restrictions earlier than this.

Depending on how talks with the Government go, this could happen soon.

However, retail sources have stressed that social distancing would only be removed if it could be justified by scientific figures.

Additionally, customer safety would remain the number one priority in all UK supermarkets.

A source told The Grocer: “The meeting will discuss the way forward with moving away from social distancing including looking at what happens with the one metre-plus rule.

“The talks with the government are upcoming and will involve the operations bosses of both food and non-food retailers.”

Helen Dickinson, CEO of British Retail Consortium (BRC), said last week businesses were waiting “with bated breath” for the green light to scrap shopping restrictions.

The BRC-Sensormatic IQ figures showed footfall was down by 40 percent in UK supermarkets compared with before the pandemic.

Due to this substantial decrease, the BRC said the cost of social distancing measures that have remained in place since the start of the pandemic was now “in the billions”.

However, some supermarkets are still expanding on its rules to keep shoppers safe.

Morrisons, for example, has said that it will keep the thousands of Perspex screens that it installed at checkouts last year despite lockdown restrictions easing.

The supermarket will also install more screens at its cafés, reopening for indoor dining next week.

More than 400 Morrisons cafés will reopen on Monday, with some already having opened for outdoor dining or takeaway only.

Morrisons CEO David Potts said: “We will keep our screens.

“We acted pretty rapidly to install them last year and they are an important part of making sure we are protecting staff and our customers and I’m certain it’s the right thing to do to keep them.

“We have also installed screens in our barista bars and cafés, which customers will see on Monday.

“I don’t think social distancing is something we are relying on in order to have no COVID costs.

“Social distancing and perhaps face coverings may go at some point but I think we may find that people have become used to having a little more space over the course of the pandemic.”

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