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In order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, social distancing measures have been put into place. This ensures that people are keeping at least 1.5m away from other people, and when indoors, there is 1 person per 4sqm.

These new rules are hard to understand at the best of times, so we have written up a small guide to help you through.


Providing a safe environment

Calculating your maximum capacity is imperative to providing your customers a safe shopping environment. To ensure you are adhering to social distancing rules you can use a  simple area calculation (length x width) based on the customer area.

In a retail setting this means you would need to measure the customer area (shop floor only, not including counter, back office, warehouse, etc). For example, if your shop is 7m x 20m, then the area is 140m, divide this by 4m (1 person per 4sqm) and it equates to 35. This means that you can have a maximum of 35 people in your store.

However, in some circumstances, having 35 people within this space would likely breach social distancing requirements. The reality is that although the shop floor area can accommodate 35 people, there is only really enough space for 10 people to effectively keep their distance when you consider promotional stacks, isles, and ATMs.

The executive manager for Employment and Training at ACAPMA, Elisha Radwanowski, explains “It gets more complicated if you consider that, even after you take out the area occupied by shelving and other stock, having a customer on every point 1.5m from each other on the floor, would limit the customers capacity to move through the store, select items and get into line”.

“Retail sites will need to take a practical eye to their shop layout, and work out how many people can safely, and practically, shop in the store at any one time.  The 4sqm requirement shows the maximum safe occupancy, but it does not take the practical nature of shoppers, moving through the store and then lining up into account” continued Radwanowski.

So how do you figure out practical safe shopping capacity?

  1. Calculate your 4sqm Maximum Capacity (just as we did before)
  2. Build a “Safe Queue” area
  • Start at the counter that the queue will lead to
  • Mark out spots for customers to stand ensuring each marked spot is at least 1.5m (we recommend 2m) away from the next spot.
  • Continue adding spots where appropriate
  • Try to avoid setting queue spots in high traffic areas, such as ATMs.
  1. Consider other shoppers
  • If your queue is full, you will also need to allow other shoppers to shop without invading the 1.5m space of those queuing up. Consider regular shopper traffic patterns to determine if your queue will interfere with other shopper’s navigation patterns.
  • Determine how many people your shop can allow to shop whilst not interfering with your Safe Space queue. This will be your Practical Person Limit.
  1. Reassess your capacity
  • If your Practical person limit is less than your maximum capacity, then you have your Practical Safe Shopping Person limit. If your Max capacity is more than your practical person limit, then you need to lower your number to match your max capacity.

By ensuring we are all adhering to social distancing rules we will be able to quickly and efficiently flatten the curve – allowing us to return to normality quicker!


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