Australia’s key retail industry groups have united to release a Retail Recovery Protocol for COVID-19 to assure the community, including retail employees and customers, that they can have confidence that retailers and shopping centres will continue to follow stringent public health guidelines, particularly as the community access essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and other goods and services.
This assurance comes as Australia’s governments are considering the gradual easing of current restrictions which would see more retailers reopening and increased visitation to shopping centres.
The Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA), National Retail Association (NRA), Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and Australian Retailers Association (ARA) have jointly developed the Protocol 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 when COVID-19 restrictions start to ease.
The key principles guiding the development of the Protocol align with the retail industry’s approach to date, which continues to be prioritising public health and safety to protect people against infection, compliance with public health guidelines, working with governments and public health authorities, and helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Based on the ‘limits on public gatherings’ announced by National Cabinet in late March, the Protocol outlines 10 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).
The SCCA, NRA, SDA, PGA and ARA have also called on Australians to treat retail workers with respect while they continue to serve and ensure the community can access essential and other retail goods and services.
Shopping Centre Council 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”.
Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said: “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.”
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said: “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”.
National Secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association Gerard Dwyer said: ”As retail workers continue to be on the front-line serving the community, it is critical that they have a safe working environment and that public health protocols are in place to protect them and their customers”.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President, George Tambassis said: “We will continue to work closely with the shopping centre industry to ensure a united and collaborative approach”.