Now that many stores, restaurants, and other venues have reopened around the country, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant in protecting yourself and your loved ones from coronavirus exposure. As exciting as it is to finally get out of the house, not every retail space is equally prepared to protect its workers and customers from getting sick. So, the next time you venture into your favorite shop, keep these ten things in mind – they might just save you from contracting the coronavirus or any virus for that matter.
10. Entrance Screening
As you enter the store, does someone take your temperature or ask you how you’re feeling? If there is no temperature or symptom screening at the store entrance, patrons and employees are at risk of coming into close contact with people who might already be sick. Entrance screening is the first line of defense in the fight to keep stores and other venues safe for everyone.
9. Sanitization of Shared Items
Are shared items, like shopping carts and baskets, disinfected between use? Suppose a store has a long line of baskets or carts. In that case, it may be difficult to tell if they are all sanitized. If you are willing to wait near the entrance for a minute or two before you enter to observe, you will be able to tell if these items have gotten sanitized sprayed before being passed off to the next customer.
Are you easily able to socially distance from the other customers and employees while shopping? If a store is not monitoring the number of customers allowed inside, there is a high chance that too many customers will enter at the same time. It is nearly impossible to social-distance in over-crowded stores. When an employee is monitoring a store’s capacity, it is much easier to maintain a safe distance between customers once inside. This keeps customers and employees safe. Many stores have implemented staggered shopping hours for different groups of customers. Some offer more contactless options, which are discussed in #10, but if your favorite store is constantly packed with customers, it might be time to take your business elsewhere.
7. Anyone Without a Mask
As you enter the store, make a quick scan of all the people inside: is anyone not wearing a mask? If you can spot even one customer or an employee without a mask, you may want to consider returning at a later time or pointing it out to a manager. It may be a momentary lapse, but if the store’s policy regarding mask usage is too relaxed or ambiguous, all those entering may be at risk.
6. Anyone with Noticeable Symptoms
Can you hear anyone coughing repeatedly, or see anyone that looks visibly ill? Coronavirus has a wide range of symptoms. Of course, a person could be coughing because of allergies or an entirely unrelated virus. But if you notice a customer or employee displaying symptoms that you consider to be worrisome, you may want to wait to shop at a different time or choose a different store altogether.
5. Sanitizing Products Available
Does the store provide its clients and employees with hand sanitizer as they enter and leave the store? If a store offers hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, or other safety items, they are clearly making an effort to keep everyone safe. If the venue has a bathroom or dressing room, these areas should be even more abundantly stocked with such protective products and gear.
Are there signs in and around the store indicating policies and encouraging safe practices? There should be abundant signage that encourages mask-wearing, social distancing, hygiene practices, and contactless options in a store that truly cares for its customers and employees. The signs should be clear and attention-grabbing, indicating the store’s policies regarding safety and, if necessary, the penalties that may be incurred by an unwillingness to comply.
3. Dining Areas or Seating
Does the store have any areas that might encourage patrons to eat in, sit, and socialize? Areas that contain tables, chairs, or even benches, can be hot spots for the spread of the virus. Therefore, they are a threat to those who use such areas. If a store still hasn’t figured out that tables and chairs are not advisable at this stage of the pandemic, they are not worth the visit.
2. Visibly Dirty Areas or Products
Does any part of the store, or the products it sells, look visibly dusty or stained? Stores of all kinds are responsible for keeping their premises and products clean, especially during a pandemic. Any public venue must be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Dirty or dusty shelves, counters, or products indicate that this is not happening, or at least not on a sufficiently regular basis. So, if a store strikes you as being unsanitized, you are probably right to avoid it if you can.
1. Contactless Options
Does the store offer contactless options for shopping and payment? With today’s technology, even small stores and businesses can offer online shopping, self-checkout, contactless payment, as well as pick-up and delivery services. It may not be possible for every venue to offer all of these options, but if your favorite shop doesn’t offer any of them, you may want to think twice before shopping there again.
With so many options now available for shopping, both online and in-person, customers need to take responsibility for their own health and safety and make the right decisions about which places receive their business. Be objective when assessing whether your favorite store is really doing all that is necessary to keep you safe, and act accordingly. Don’t take unnecessary risks – your health is too important!