Covid: Shoppers must respect staff when retail reopens

Covid: Shoppers  must respect staff  when retail reopens
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling on shoppers to adhere to social-distancing rules and "queue considerately" as curbs ease on Monday.

The Co-op reported a rise in abuse and assaults involving staff during Covid.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said last year she "will not tolerate" abuse against shop workers.

The latest step in the government s roadmap in England sees non-essential retail such as clothes and technology shops reopen on Monday alongside hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms.

In Wales, all shops will reopen as every pupil returns to the classroom.

The BRC, which represents big chain stores, said the public "have a key part to play in creating a safe and enjoyable retail environment".

It estimates the three national lockdowns in England since March 2020 have cost non-food stores about £30bn in lost sales - but an initial sales surge is expected as restrictions ease.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson said it was vital retailers "are able to make their contribution to the UK s economic recovery".

She said: "Many of us will be looking forward to returning to our favourite shop in the coming weeks, and we all have a duty to keep each other safe. Everyone should be considerate and respectful to their fellow shoppers and hard-working shop staff.

"This way we can all enjoy shopping and support our local communities."

Among its pleas to the public, the BRC asked people to "shop alone where possible", "follow instructions", and observe hygiene measures.

media captionA shop manager has described the abuse she s experienced at work during the pandemic.

The Co-op said last year that violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour had become "normalised" and was at "unprecedented levels" during the pandemic.

Co-op food boss Jo Whitfield said face-covering requirements and social-distancing rules had led to shop workers being "spat at and threatened".

"The reality is that shop workers are facing levels of violence for just doing their job: they have been spat at and threatened just because they ve asked customers to respect social distancing," .

Speaking on the launch of a consultation over new legislation to protect shop staff, Ms Patel said last July: "I will not tolerate violence and abuse against any shopworker and it s right that those who commit these crimes must be caught and punished."

Monday will see more businesses begin trading once more, with restaurants and pubs able to serve food and alcohol outside, theme parks and self-contained overnight accommodation for single households reopen.

It marks the latest step in the government s roadmap in England and a nudge towards normality - as children can attend any indoor activities and driving lessons resume.

In Northern Ireland, Monday will see the stay-at-home order relaxed with up to 10 people from two households able to meet in a private garden - and non-essential retail will be able to operate click-and-collect services.

In Scotland, homeware stores have already reopened and the next easing of restrictions on 26 April will see remaining shops welcome customers.

A further 2,589 coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday across the UK alongside another 40 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
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