Supermarket social distancing: what are the new measures?


Posted on 31 March 2020 in

The coronavirus crisis is the most dramatic public health emergency in living memory – with extraordinary measures impacting both shoppers, retailers and businesses around the world. But how is retail coping with the pandemic?

Social distancing has become a necessity for all of us and retailers already operating in an unprecedented difficult time are having to quickly adapt to establish safe distancing retail environments for staff and shoppers. Coupled with the fact that the coronavirus outbreak has caused panic buying in the UK, leaving supermarket shelves empty retailers have also been quick to respond to the increased demand by putting restrictions on the number of products customers can buy as well as changing store opening times and online delivery slots to benefit elderly and vulnerable customers and key workers.

Below is a list which, we will update regularly, of how the UK designated essential retailers have adapted their stores and the initiatives they are taking to keep their customers and staff safe.


  • The supermarket has introduced “two-metre marshals” in stores.
  • It is also limiting customer numbers, introducing “safe distance” floor signage, installing protective screens at checkouts, putting in place additional security and encouraging contactless shopping.
  • Closing one checkout where two checkouts are back to back.
  • Special protective visors are also being ordered and will be available to staff if they wish.
  • New lift instructions state that only one customer or family should occupy a lift at any one time.


  • Asda’s initiatives include limiting the number of customers allowed to enter stores at any one time and markers on the floor, directional barriers and new signage to ensure social distancing measures.
  • It is also introducing Perspex screens at the checkouts, pharmacies and service desks as well as closing every other ‘Scan and Go’ checkout.
  • It has also made hand sanitiser available in stores, and has requested shoppers make cashless payments whenever possible.


  • Clear screens will be installed at all Aldi checkouts in the UK to protect colleagues and customers.
  • Introducing distancing in stores with two-metre floor markers and in-store social distancing notices.
  • To allow staff to rest and stock to be replenished, all store daily opening hours will shorten slightly to close at 8pm every day.


  • Tesco has put tape on the floor of its shops to demonstrate safe distances at which to stand and is limiting the number of people allowed in shops.
  • It is also rolling out protective screens at all its checkouts, as well as one way aisles to help maintain social distancing in-store.
  • They are also restricting online orders to just 80 items to prevent further stockpiling.


  • The shop has put protective screens in place to protect staff from infected droplets at all checkouts with small waist height windows for transactions.
  • There is also hand sanitiser available at the checkouts.
  • It has also put together essential ‘food boxes’ in order to reduce the amount of contact people have with others. These cost £35 for a family, and a vegetarian option can also be ordered. They contain meat, eggs, pasta, vegetables and other staples.


  • Lidl will install checkout protection screens across all its stores in Great Britain.
  • Introducing a crowd control system to help manage in-store social distancing including floor markers and posters.
  • Positioning security guards or designated team members at store entrances to manage queues and the number of customers entering the stores at any one time.
  • In a change to the bakery section they are pre-bagging all bakery items.


  • The supermarket is limiting the number of shoppers in-store.
  • In-store tape marking out the correct two-metre distance to stand behind or in front of the next person in the queue.
  • Staff will also be given plastic screens at tills for protection.
  • Closing every other payment point in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol filling stations and where assistants sit back to back.
  • Asking customers to use cards at tills and cash at self-service checkouts where they can.


  • Employees will clean trollies, baskets, screens and all touch points hourly, in addition to a full deep clean at night.
  • The stores will also have markings on the floor to help customers to stand two metres apart when queuing.
  • Staff will carry hand sanitiser and have time in their shifts to wash their hands every half hour and they will manage the number of customers in the store at busy times.
  • They will also install sneeze guards to protect employees.


  • Floor markers which will define a one-metre distancing in front of till points and checkouts and two-metre spacing for customer queues.
  • A limited number of customers will be allowed into stores at any one time and there will be a reduction in the number of tills that will be open.


  • The stores which are open are operating on reduced hours of 10am to 5pm to ensure there is enough time for deep cleaning and stocking shelves.
  • Other measures include 2 metre distancing, extra card only tills, the removal of testers and restricting the number of customers per store at any one time.
  • Rolling out Perspex screens at till points and pharmacy counters as quickly as possible.


  • Making disposable gloves and paper towels available where needed in stores and forecourts.
  • Providing extra cleaning products for cleaning baskets, counter tops, ATMs and chip and pin machines where applicable.
  • Where possible stores will use every other till point to keep customers and colleagues a safe distance apart.
  • Specially designated social distancing markings installed in front of till points.
  • Customers encouraged to use contactless payments where possible.
  • Customers asked to pay with card if possible.
  • Special markings installed throughout stores to showcase two metre spacing to customers.
  • In-store communication on SPAR radio or posters to show customers how to maintain social distancing while shopping.
  • Use of floor signage to promote social distancing.
  • Protective Perspex screens added at store till points including Post Office combination tills.
  • Encouraging customers to bring their own cups for hot drinks.
  • Encouraging store staff to limit the amount of customers allowed into the store at any time to ensure social distancing measures are followed.
  • Where possible special markings installed outside stores highlighting social distances of two meters.

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