Freedom Day? Not yet

Like everyone, we’re pretty fed up with Covid and have been looking forward to restrictions easing so that we can begin to restore some form of normality to our lives. It’s been a long old slog which has brought out the very best and the very worst in people, disrupted virtually every element of our business (and that of our suppliers) and brought with it a raft of extra demands on our hearts, minds, time, patience and stamina.

It’s therefore disappointing that today’s changes will have very little impact on the way we do things here at the store for the time being. The government guidance accompanying ‘Stage Four’ places a very strong emphasis on businesses making their own decisions about how to manage the ongoing risks rather than relying on legal restrictions, but also places the responsibility that goes with those decisions fairly and squarely at our door.

Given the high infection rate right now and the cautionary messages coming from medical experts, it’s a very rash business that flings open their doors, throws away the masks and rips up the Covid rule book today.

A large proportion of our hardworking team won’t have been fully vaccinated until early September and the operational hazards associated with the current ‘pingdemic’ mean that we will still be recommending our customers to follow all these steps while shopping in the store:

• Hand sanitiser is available at the door. Please feel free to use it both when entering and leaving.

•  Face coverings are recommended at all times, but particularly when the store is busy.

•  As a courtesy to other shoppers and our team, we ask those who are exempt from wearing face coverings or choose not to, to maintain a minimum 2m distance from others.

•  Our floor markers remain in place to demonstrate the safe and polite distance to be maintained between customers when queuing.

•  We ask you not to lean on or touch the glass counters.

•  We request you to allow our employees space to carry out their jobs.

•  Please be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to for age verification purposes.

•  Please use contactless payment methods where possible.

And this is how our team will be helping you to feel comfortable while you’re here:

•  Anyone working on the shop floor (i.e. not behind a counter) will be wearing a face covering.

•  We try to do as much work on the shop floor as possible when the store is closed or quiet, but sometimes we need to replenish or move stock outside those times. If anyone is working in an area where you would like to shop or browse, they will be very happy to move out of the way if asked.

•  Those behind the counters who have been fully vaccinated may remove face coverings provided they maintain a min 2m distance from others.

•  All our team carry out twice weekly Covid tests and we have a rigorous process in place for handling any outbreak (we’re thankful and proud to have avoided that so far).

•  Contact devices and surfaces are cleaned at regular intervals.

•  The displays will continue to be laid out with plenty of space around fixtures and no long runs.

•  Our tills are positioned to avoid congestion at counters.

In addition:

•  Our pre-paid ordering system remains in place for anyone who wants to avoid coming into the store. For more details click HERE.

•  Our café remains closed for eating-in but is open for takeaway 8-2 Monday to Saturday and 10-4 on Sundays.

•  Our customer toilets and baby change facilities remain closed (and will be as long as the café is closed) but facilities are available in Waitrose.

Rest assured we are doing everything we can in an ever-changing landscape to keep our team and customers safe and well.  Disappointing as it is, our whole team supports this way forward and doesn’t want to undo all the efforts we’ve made while things remain so uncertain.  Thank you for supporting it too.