“Ensuring the safety of store staff and customers is our absolute top priority, even more so during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. We are introducing safety measures on many fronts, from instructing store staff and customers to increasing cleaning and raising capacity for online deliveries,” says Ari Akseli, President of K Group’s grocery trade division.
K Group’s dedicated team comprising occupational health experts and store tech professionals is constantly coming up with new solutions to improve staff safety.
“Installing protective shields at cash registers and customer service points is one measure we are currently implementing. Many K-food stores have already installed shields, and we continue installations at an accelerating speed in our network of 1,200 stores. In terms of the bigger picture, our main objective is to find functional, safe solutions that can be widely and quickly employed at our stores,” says Akseli.
K-retailers around Finland have come up with new ways of collaborating locally and established new operating models. For example, as of today 360 K-food stores at 189 locations offer dedicated shopping hours for people to whom coronavirus poses the biggest risk. The figure is constantly growing.
We can all help keep ourselves and store staff safe
The measures to improve safety are ongoing, but the most important thing overall is that everyone who comes into the store either to work or to shop follows common safety instructions.
People working in the stores come into contact with hundreds of people every day as they work to ensure that grocery stores can remain open and food can purchased. This raises their risk of exposure. According to experts, the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads from person to person through droplet transmission in close contact, and that is why it is crucial that close contact is avoided at the stores.
“The same instructions apply to grocery stores as all other surroundings at the moment. First and foremost, if you are sick, you must not come to the store. Also, it is crucial to keep a safe distance between people – both customers and store staff. It is also important to ensure good hand hygiene. If you must cough, cough into your elbow or sleeve. We recommend using contactless payment or card payment. The stores have signs that remind people of these practical instructions. We are all responsible for ensuring that people working in stores stay healthy and can serve customers in these exceptional circumstances,” says Akseli.
Maximum contactless payment limit should be raised temporarily
Akseli stresses the importance of collaboration across the whole sector in the current situation.
“When we agree on and share best practices, they can be more widely and effectively employed. One option would be to temporarily raise the maximum sum for contactless payments at the cash register, which we at K Group support. We hope that the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority would allow raising the maximum limit temporarily from 50 euros to 100 euros,” says Akseli.