NRF reveals 'Operation Open Doors' as Covid-19 restrictions lift
With a number of American retailers set to reopen in the coming weeks as coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has released a set of guidelines to help stores navigate the challenges presented by the unprecedented new situation.
Entitled “Operation Open Doors,” NRF’s action plan is presented as a check list and groups its advice under three central topics: “Employees,” “Logistics/Operations” and “Health Policy.”
In terms of employee-related guidelines, NRF highlighted the need for retailers to implement protocols to effectively limit the spread of Covid-19 and respond when an employee contracts the virus.
The organization further emphasized the importance of planning so as to be able to respond to employees who are part of vulnerable communities or are fearful of returning to work, while also advising that factors which may affect an employee’s ability or interest in returning to work, such as child or elder care, or even generous unemployment insurance benefits, should be carefully assessed.
Among the logistical guidelines proposed by NRF, key takeaways included being aware of new signage requirements, revising fitting room and returns policies, and promoting “contactless” payment options. For beauty retailers, NRF suggested the prohibition or removal of fragrance and beauty testers.
As for the health policy that retailers should be adopting when they reopen their brick-and-mortar operations, NRF outlined a series of measures regarding enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices, the use of masks and PPE by employees, and specific employee training.
NRF also provided a comprehensive list of initiatives meant to encourage social distancing in store, such as appropriately spaced floor markers for areas where customers are likely to queue, temperature screening at the store entrance, capacity limits and frequent audio messaging reminding employees and shoppers of CDC guidance concerning hygiene and physical distancing.
Among the U.S. states that ordered store closures, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska allowed retailers to reopen last week, while Mississippi, Montana and Tennessee followed suit on Monday. However, reopening stores in all of these states are still subject to restrictions concerning opening times, PPE and customer capacity.
The full “Operation Open Doors” check list can be found on the NRF website.
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