Plans to reopen shops are in ‘chaos’ with experts warning a second wave is likely because customers need 108 square foot of space to safely social-distance.
High street stores must give each consumer at least 108 sq ft (10 sq m) of ‘dynamic space’ to move around, according to a new study.
The research also found each person requires 118 sq ft (11 sq m) in larger retailers and 129 sq ft (12 sq m) for outdoor areas.
It comes as SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advisers warn reopening shops on June 15 could risk a second wave and subsequent lockdown.
Plans to reopen shops are in ‘chaos’ with experts warning a second wave is likely because customers need 108 square foot of space to safely social-distance
In the paper by Manchester Metropolitan and Cardiff universities, it says: ‘This is a complex issue that will also require the careful management of people once they are in a space, coupled with self-discipline and compliance from the public.
‘As well as the size of the floorspace, the layout and positioning of goods, entrance and exit points, and point of sale arrangements will have a large impact on what the final capacity may be for an individual retail environment.’
The study notes that its estimations ‘do not account for the specific characteristics’ of some spaces.
Currently, government guidance advises employers define the ‘number of customers than reasonably follow 2m social distancing’.
It adds: ‘Shopping centres should take responsibility for regulating the number of customers in the centre and the queuing process in communal areas on behalf of their retail tenants.’
Chris Turner, the chief executive of British BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) told The Guardian: ‘Retailers are finding creative ways to deal with this two-metre malarkey – but they can’t afford to have them all queuing outside at the same time as it stands because if everybody does that it’ll be chaos.’
Matt Hancock pictured at last night’s coronavirus news briefing, during which he raised the prospect of North West and South West England going back into full lockdown
Meanwhile, Matt Hancock last night raised the prospect of North West and South West England going back into full lockdown to combat local surges in coronavirus infection.
Both regions have seen their crucial R rate rise above 1, the benchmark for avoiding another crisis.
Separate estimates produced by experts at Public Health England and Cambridge University today suggested this figure, the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects, is above the danger level.
Asked about the situation at the daily Downing Street press conference. Mr Hancock said the Government was ‘seeking to take a more local approach’ to tackling outbreaks.
Signage reminding shoppers of social distancing rules in a River Island store in Liverpool, as shops make preparations to reopen following the introduction of lockdown easing measures
The Victoria’s Secret store on New Bond Street, London, as the UK arm of lingerie brand, which runs 25 stores across the UK, has slipped into administration
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s director of public health, told The Sun: ‘This really underlines the importance of people maintaining social distancing and continuing to follow Government guidance as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
‘We will be monitoring the R number very carefully and a tightening of lockdown restrictions could be possible if the R number increases.’
Many high street shops have been fighting to stay afloat with Victoria’s Secret UK recently crashing into administration, putting more than 800 jobs in jeopardy.
Sales have nosedived during the lockdown after the lingerie retailer’s 25 British stores were forced to shutter.
The firm has already furloughed 785 of its workers, who have been further tossed into the lurch as administrators from Deloitte are called in.
While many have managed to stay afloat by clinging onto government support, several businesses have been forced to call in administrators.
Debenhams, Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley are among the big high street names who have fallen victim to the virus.
Al fresco Britannia! Restaurants, pubs and cafés prepare for outdoor-dining revolution after Boris Johnson’s ‘Great Recovery Bill’ vows to fast-track requests for tables and chairs in street
Restaurants, pubs and cafes are preparing for an outdoor-dining revolution after Boris Johnson’s ‘Great Recovery Bill’ promises to fast-track requests for tables and chairs in the street.
The Prime Minister has drawn up the Bill to slash red tape and help get the economy moving again, and ministers have been told to submit ideas for reforms that would allow firms to adapt to the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Government officials are also being asked to find ways of ensuring essential services can operate while social distancing remains in place.
A waiter wearing a face mask serves at Cafe de Flore in Paris, France, on June 2 as restaurants and cafes reopen following the coronavirus disease outbreak
Some of the red tape that ministers will target can be ditched without the need for primary legislation.
They are already considering scrapping local authority fees for cafes and restaurants that want to put tables on the pavement.
Ministers also want to make it easier for pubs to reconfigure so they can serve customers outside, and planning restrictions on the high street could be simplified so retail units can more easily change between shops, retail and residential uses.
The proposals could include enabling shops to stay open all day on a Sunday by suspending Sunday trading laws for a year, according to The Times.
Cafes and pubs could be given fast-track approval to serve food and drink outside.
The plans would be rolled together in a legislative agenda provisionally entitled the ‘Great Recovery Bill’.
It will sit alongside a mini-budget, pencilled in for July, which is expected to include tax cuts to fuel consumer spending and business investment.