Covid19: Retailers roll out steps to maintain social distancing, sanitisation at stores

PTI, Mar 24, 2020, 4:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Big retailers, which are presently dispensing only essential items amid the lockdown, are taking precautionary measures like restricted entry and marked lines to maintain social distancing to avoid coronavirus infection at their stores.

Some stores as Reliance Fresh, More, Walmart and Metro Cash & Carry are even screening body temperature of their customers before allowing them entry into the store.

Metro Cash & Carry India said it is pre-packing loose commodities to avoid infection at its stores and is ensuring plenty of cash tills and mobile checkouts to reduce the billing time. It has also introduced a token system to avoid large gathering at stores.

Several retailers like Future, DMart and Walmart have marked special lines on their shop floors to maintain social distancing. They are also regularly sanitising the stores and disinfecting all touchpoints which include trolly and basket handles.

“We are managing the queue in such a way that people are standing away from each other,” Avenue Supermarts CEO and Managing Director Neville Noronha said.

Avenue Supermarts that runs D-Mart stores, is handing out coloured coupons to its customers waiting outside in the open area and then allowing entry of a particular colour at a time as part of its crowd management plan.

We are calling out the colour as yellow, green and then 20 to 30 people are walking inside the store. When these people out from the store, then we call the next colour, saidNoronha.

Metro Cash & Carry MD & CEOArvind Mediratta said: We have initiated a token system to manage the customers and avoid a large gathering inside the store. The tokens are properly sanitized with disinfectants and then handed over to customers.

Walmart India, which operates in cash & carry format, has also marked lines and is only permitting one person per membership card.

We have marked the floors of our Best Price stores with yellow stripes and boxes to designate enough space for each member to maintain a safe distance from each other, said a Walmart India spokesperson.

He further said: The stores are also equipped with contactless thermometers for conducting temperature checks. Entry is barred for those detected with fever and high-touch surfaces of our stores are being regularly cleaned with disinfectant.

As far as measures for sanitation are concerned, Walmart India has already deployed hand washing stations at the entry of stores as well as multiple hand sanitiser stations across each store.

Metro Cash & Carry India, is also maintaining hygiene advised by the health authorities and loose commodities are being pre-packed to avoid infection at its stores.

We test each entrant with infra thermometers at all our stores and refuse those customers whose temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We have a dedicated quality officer who is stationed full time at each of our stores. To avoid crowd we are ensuring plenty of cash tills and mobile checkouts said a Metro Cash & Carry India spokesperson

Most of the retailers have closed access to other segments as apparels etc within the store and are operating within one-third of their space.

Kishore Biyani-led Future Group has put marks near the billing counters of its Big Bazar and Easyday stores so that people maintain the mandatory distance of three feet.

We have created marks on the floor, on which the people have to stand to maintain a safe distance, a Future Group spokesperson said.

The company is operating right now around 700 to 800 stores pan India, which includes big stores and small stores, amidst the lockdown situation.

We are operating only the food and grocery section. If you enter into any Bigbazar, then you can only shop essentials and then come out. You cannot shop anything else, he said.

A total of 32 states and Union Territories have declared complete lockdown so far covering 560 districts in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

However, because of the lockdown, several retailers are also facing lots of problems though essentials items are exempted from it.

Our staff is not able to reach the stores as police are driving them away when they are on the way to store. It is difficult to run a store in such, said Noronha.

The Retail Association of India has requested the home deliveries be allowed to prevent people from stepping out of their homes thereby preventing spreading of the infection.

According to Health Ministry data, nearly 500coronaviruscases have been reported in India so far.

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