Coronavirus: Waitrose and Lidl deploy 'two-metre marshals' and checkout screens as contactless limit to be raised

Tuesday 24th March 2020 18:00 GMT

As non-essential retail closes its doors, grocery outlets and pharmacies are on the front line to keep the UK fed and watered to comply with Boris Johnson's restrictions on movement to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Waitrose and Lidl announced new measures as it was confirmed the contactless payment limit was to be raised as part of efforts to reduce the need for physical contact with devices, where people need to input their pin number, and handling cash.

Banking industry group UK Finance said that from 1 April, the new £45 limit - up from the current £30 - would be applied at many stores, though it would take longer to roll out across the retail network as a whole.

It was aimed at reducing the need for physical contact with devices, where people need to input their pin number, and handling cash.

Waitrose said it was bolstering social distancing measures within its stores in a bid to keep staff, known as partners, and customers as safe as possible.

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The supermarket chain was to limit customer numbers in-store, introduce "safe distance" floor signage and deploy, what it described as, "two-metre marshals" to help manage queues.

Protective screens were also being erected at checkouts where contactless shopping was to be encouraged.

Lidl said it was installing checkout protection screens across all its stores after Morrisons took the lead on Monday.

Aldi later followed suit, installing clear plastic screens and floor markers at checkouts.

Asda is taking similar measures and said where necessary it would limit the number of customers in stores.

Waitrose customer service director Bérangère Michel said: "The health of our partners and customers has always been our number one priority and we fully support social distancing.

"While these measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment - they are absolutely vital to ensure that our customers can shop safely and that our partners are protected as they go above and beyond to serve shoppers in this time of crisis."

Housebuilders have been given permission to continue operating though building projects within occupied premises have been halted.

Redrow updated the market on Tuesday to say that while its sites remained open, it was operating with "strict precautions" on social distancing and with enhanced hygiene facilities.

Other builders including Taylor Wimpey closed their sites.

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