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Morrisons and Aldi to put up checkout screens to protect staff | Business

Morrisons and Aldi will install hundreds of screens at checkouts this week to protect staff as concerns grow about the safety of their dealing with hundreds of customers a day during the coronavirus outbreak.

Several retailers have asked shoppers to keep at least a metre (3ft) away from staff at tills but some shop workers have said on social media that they have not been allowed to wear protection such as masks to fend off the virus.

The general secretary of the shop workers’ union Usdaw, Paddy Lillis, said: “We have increasing concerns about the safety and welfare of staff in stores. The scenes in stores over the weekend and behaviour of some customers mean that supermarkets need to go further to protect the health, safety and welfare of shop workers.”

Supermarkets and their staff have come under pressure as shoppers switch from dining out to cooking at home under the government’s recent social-distancing measures, which include the closure of cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Lillis said: “We are calling on retailers to continue to improve their stores and procedures to help protect staff. We also call on customers to stay calm, respect shop workers and practice the necessary hygiene measures to help limit the spread of the virus. We all have to work together to get through this crisis.”

The union welcomed the new measures being taken by Morrisons and Aldi but said it wanted retailers to protect staff further with measures that include:

  • Limiting the number of customers in store at any one time

  • Increasing security presence

  • Providing perspex shields around checkouts

  • Ensuring staff are able to perform necessary hygiene procedures

  • Telling customers to shop alone if possible and only buy what they need

  • Enforcing essential workers’ and vulnerable people’s shopping hours

The union said shoppers could help protect staff by washing their hands before shopping, maintaining physical distance, treating workers with courtesy and respect and paying with contactless cards if possible.

Morrisons’ chief executive, David Potts, said the company had employed 83 fitting teams to install protective screens at every checkout as soon as possible. “The wellbeing of colleagues is paramount,” he said.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda are understood to be reviewing further measures to protect staff but have not provided workers with masks or screens.

Tesco said it had introduced social-distancing measures around checkouts and queue barriers in large stores.

Sainsbury’s is asking customers to stand a metre away from each other and staff wherever possible and pay by card rather than cash at the tills.

Asda has provided staff with gloves and hand sanitiser. It said it had also extended breaks so employees could wash hands more frequently and asked customers to pay by card whenever possible.

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