Northern Ireland news

Wondering what the high street will look like after lockdown finally lifts?

Among the stores that could be among the first retailers to open are jewellers

WONDERING what the high street will look like after lockdown finally lifts?

A picture is beginning to emerge of what processes customers and staff will have to go through as more retail stores prepare to open.

It comes after the Executive announced on Thursday that more retailers will be permitted to open from June 8 if the coronavirus infection rate remains under control.

Large stores like car showrooms and those in retail parks with a low footfall, including those selling electronics or household furnishings, computer equipment, mobile phones and furniture will be able to open their doors.

The executive will meet again on June 4 to make a final decision.

In England, non-essential shops have already been given the green light to re-open from June 15 if they meet guidelines to protect staff and shoppers.

All shops in England, regardless of what they sell, will be able to open with social distancing measures in place, with car showrooms and outdoor markets allowed to re-open from Monday.

Among the stores with a low footfall that could potentially be among the first retailers to open are jewellers.

Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, which has a store in Belfast city centre, has revealed what the shopping experience will look like when it is allowed to re-open.

Protective Perspex screens at consultation points, fewer selling zones and reduced numbers allowed into store.

Customers will be allowed to try on jewellery, but a rigorous hygiene process using a jewellery cleaning solution and regular stock rotation will be in place.

Floor markings and physical boundaries to ensure social distancing for customers and staff will be brought in with daily temperature checks for team members and hand sanitizer stations throughout the store, which will be mandatory for shoppers to use before entering.

Each store team will have a customer host to greet shoppers and a designated team member to provide personal assistance during their visit.

Aside from the host, colleagues will not be required to wear face masks or PPE, but will have the option to do so if they choose.

Masks and gloves will be available for customers and individual appointments permitted for special purchases such as engagement rings, but will be limited to the beginning and end of the day.

Anna Blackburn from Beaverbrooks said: "Over the past few months, we have been developing comprehensive plans for this reopening, which put safety at the top of the list while ensuring we are able to resume the high level of personal service our customers expect."

Canadian coffee chain, Tim Hortons has also set out procedures for its stores as it announced it will reopen store on Fountain Street in Belfast for takeaway and delivery from Monday.

It said "health and well-being measures" will be in place, including checks for employees before shifts with temperature checks and non-medical PPE for team members.

Perspex screens are at counters, a one-way system in and out of every restaurant with signage to encourage customer social distancing and contactless payment only.

Kevin Hydes from Tim Hortons said over recent weeks they had been trialling the new measures at their drive-through stores across the UK.

"The learning we have taken during this period has given us the confidence to re-open more restaurants and introduce more ways to serve our customers," he said.

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