With Boris Johnson stating that all non-essential retailers in England can begin trading on the high street from June 15, many jewellers up and down the country are gearing up to open their stores.
And, as any business owner will be acutely aware, the reopening of stores is not going to be as simple as lifting the shutters, turning the lights back on and placing jewellery in the windows.
Instead, jewellery retailers will need to meet new standards and follow Government regulations in order to trade post-lockdown, and this will no doubt create a whole series of challenges that businesses will need to navigate as they adjust to a ‘new normal’.
But fear not, the task which lays ahead is not an impossible one, and we have pulled together the latest and most relevant advice from the government and market experts to compile a comprehensive list of what jewellery retailers need to consider in order to operate safely and remain in line with new restrictions.
While some of the advice might sound like common sense, it should help to provide a framework for the measures companies need to consider as they formulate plans to start selling jewellery in a bricks and mortar environment again.
For this guide, we are pleased to have partnered with the Parify Group, which has adapted its business to offer jewellers a range of practical solutions, including PPE, a trade-focused UV steriliser and a smart hand sanitising station.
Find out how Parify can help your business meet new standards and protect staff below:
So without further ado, here is the Professional Jeweller checklist for transforming your store into a fully compliant retail operation…
Think about risk – all employers must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment
Ahead of reopening, all jewellers need to assess and manage the risks of Covid-19 in their place of work.
As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety.
This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of Covid-19.
You must make sure, however, that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of Covid-19, using the government guidance to inform your decisions and control measures.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.
If you have fewer than five workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.
All employers, however, do have a duty to consult their workforce on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from Covid-19.
The government notes: “The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously.”
Jewellers must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.
Jewellers should also consider publishing their results on their website – with jewellery retailers with employees of 50+ been expected to do so. Many in the UK have been keeping customers up to date with their Covid-19 policies, with experts encouraging businesses to do so as a way to build trust and encourage consumer confidence.
In the same vein, and as recommended by the Government, jewellers should display a notice in their window to show they have followed Government guidance.
Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking
preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the
workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected.
In the context of Covid-19 the Government says this means working through these steps in order:
– In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
– Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).
– Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
The guidelines say further mitigating actions include:
- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
- Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’
(so each person works with only a few others).
- Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.
- In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are
especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
- You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for
example by trade associations or trades unions
Who should work? Employers must protect their team
The government still advices that everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home. For jewellers – this means considering if any team members (perhaps those working on the digital or marketing side) can continue to work from home when stores reopen.
All jewellers should consider who is essential to be on the premises and plan to have the minimum amount of people needed for the store to operate safely and effectively.
Employees should also consider if any of their workers fall into the vulnerable categories and, where possible, make allowances for them to work from home.
Jewellers will also need to make sure employees with Covid-19 symptoms– or living with someone showing symptoms – does not come to work.
Social distancing at work – people must maintain 2m apart wherever possible
This has been a constant and clear message from the prime minister and affirmed in the government’s work safety document – people need to be staying 2m apart from those outside of their household.
Therefore, all jewellers need to ensure staff and customers maintain 2 metres apart on their premises. This includes all areas of the business – from the front, to the showroom, to back offices and staff rooms.
Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.
The Government recommends:
- Staggering arrival and departures times to reduce crowds in and out of the workplace
- Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace in larger stores.
- Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.
- Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points.
- Providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
- Reducing movement in the store by, for example, restricting access to some areas and encouraging use of radios or telephones, where permitted.
- Introducing a one-way flow through the store.
- Providing floor markings and signage to remind both workers and customers to follow to social distancing wherever possible.
- Staggering break times to reduce the amount of people congregating in staff rooms
- Reconfiguring seating and tables to optimise spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions
The government also advices employers implement ‘workplace’ stations – meaning staff will be assigned to specific areas of the store/ back office to work in. For example, one employee may stay behind the fashion jewellery counter, while another looks after the bridal lounge.
Furthermore, retailers are encouraged to avoid having people work face-to-face. Where possible, people should remain side-be-side or facing away from each other. When it comes to serving customers, the guidelines recommend using screens to create a physical barrier between people.
Jewellers should also consider how they do their morning meetings whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
Managing your customers
As expected, jewellers may need to make physical changes to the store, to enable social distancing to take place, and the number of people able to be in a store at a given time whilst staying 2 metres apart should be considered.
The government advises:
- Define the number of customers that can reasonably follow 2m social distancing within the store and any outdoor selling areas.
- Limit the number of customers in the store, overall and in any particular congestion areas, for example doorways between outside and inside spaces.
- Suspend or reduce customer services that cannot be undertaken without contravening social distancing guidelines.
- Encourage customers to shop alone where possible
- Remind customers who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines.
- Look at how people walk through the shop and how you could adjust this to reduce congestion and contact between customers, for example, queue management or one-way flow, where possible.
Whatever steps a jeweller takes, these will need to be clearly communicated to staff and customers to ensure everyone understands the new rules.
All companies should make the guidelines on social distancing and hygiene clear to all who enter their premises.
Providing and explaining available guidance
Business owners have a duty to ensure everyone entering their premises understand the rules – be that customers, suppliers or staff.
It is important that everyone understands what needs to take place in your retail environment to stay safe.
The Government recommends:
- Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people on arrival, for example, signage and visual aids.
- Providing written or spoken communication of the latest guidelines to both workers and customers inside and outside the store. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are visually impaired.
- Creating social distancing champions to demonstrate social distancing guidelines to customers, if helpful.
- Ensuring latest guidelines are visible in selling and non-selling areas.
Employers will want to pay particular attention to training staff and ensuring they understand your new measures. The Government stresses this is of the upmost importance.
Cleaning the workplace
Before reopening the government says retailers should assess cleaning procedures and check whether they need to service or adjust ventilation systems.
Once open, stores will need to be frequently cleaned, with particular attention paid to any surfaces that may be touched.
Jewellers will also need to clean work areas and equipment before use.
Furthermore, the Government says objects that are regularly touched by customers must be frequently cleaned, which implies jewellers will need to be prepared clean to jewellery pieces after they have been tried on.
Most of the advice on cleaning is common sense – but the main message is to clean frequently and pay particular attention to anything or any surface being touched by staff or customers.
To help keep the store safe, jewellers should also provide a way for staff and customers to keep their hands clean, and signs in store should encourage good hand cleaning practices.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings
When managing the risk of covid-19, the government says additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because Covid-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus. Unless you are in a situation where the risk of Covid-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it.
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms. A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers.
To see the full Government guidelines, jewellers can visit the ‘working safely during Covid-19’ section of Government website and read the regulations under ‘shops and branches’.