30 March 2020

Perspex barriers coming to a supermarket near you

| Michael Weaver
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Shoppers wearing masks at a Coles supermarket last week.

Shoppers at a Coles supermarket last week. Photo: Region Media

Shoppers throughout the region will soon see perspex barriers at the checkouts of Woolworths supermarkets as the chain moves to decrease the risk of shoppers and staff contracting COVID-19.

Woolworths confirmed the screens would start appearing at the checkouts of all of its supermarkets during the coming weeks.

Managing director Claire Peters said the chain would do “everything necessary” to uphold public health and safety in its stores in response to the Federal Government’s steps to enforce social distancing measures.

“We know it’s not always easy to maintain social distancing at our check-outs, so we’ve started installing plexiglass screens as an additional safeguard for our team members and customers,” she said.

The perspex barriers will also appear at the BWS stores where floor markings will indicate appropriate distances between others when waiting at the checkout.

The retailer has also partnered with Australia Post and DHL Supply Chain to launch the ‘Woolworths Basics Box’ across the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria for customers unable to leave their home.

The $80 box will contain meals, snacks and a few essential items. The price also includes contactless doorstep delivery by Australia Post within an estimated time of two to five business days. Woolworths says it will not be profiting from providing this service.

Coles was unable to confirm whether it will introduce perspex barriers, but said it has introduced a range of measures to help with social distancing in stores.

Customers are advised to use the length of a trolley as a guide for the distance between themselves and other shoppers and to sanitise their hands before entering stores. The use of tap-and-go for payments is also being encouraged.

“Coles is spending an additional $1 million per week to extensively clean our stores and also increasing the number of security guards in our supermarkets to keep customers and team members safe during this time of unprecedented demand,” Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said.

Aldi, Coles and Woolworths have all said they will be recruiting extra employees to deal with additional requirements to keep shoppers safe.

Aldi Australia CEO Tom Daunt called for retail calm amidst panic buying in supermarkets.

“The increase in violence that retailers have seen over the past few weeks is absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Daunt said.

“We would ask everyone to be considerate and compassionate in the way they shop. This means civil behaviour, courtesy to those less able and respect for the employees of retail outlets.

“Quite frankly, we won’t tolerate anything less. We understand your concerns, but buying more than is needed can mean that others will be left without.”

Coles supermarket employee with mask and gloves.

Coles supermarket employee with mask and gloves. Photo: Region Media.

Coles has also dedicated two shopping periods per week to emergency services and healthcare workers.

The first hour of trade on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be for emergency services and healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, police, firefighters and emergency service workers who hold an AHPRA card, have a workplace ID or are wearing their work uniform.

Vulnerable and elderly customers can access the store on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the first hour of trade from 7:00 am.

“In the past week we have seen community hour help vulnerable and elderly Australians access essential grocery items during this challenging time. We are now extending this opportunity to those Australians who are protecting our community and keeping us safe,” Mr Cain said in a statement.

“We know these workers are incredibly busy and hope that providing them with a dedicated hour at the beginning of the day to shop will make their lives a little easier and support the vital work they are doing every day.

“We are also incredibly proud of our team members in-store who are working hard to get stock on to shelves as fast as possible, create a safe place to shop, and provide our customers with great service. We ask that our customers continue to show them kindness and patience.”

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