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March 4, 2021

Queuing and pre-ordering

It is essential for businesses allowing customers in their premises, such as shops, bars and restaurants, to plan and design queues aligned with social distancing guidelines.

Appropriate queues not only help employees and customers to stay safe by avoiding gatherings and unnecessary contact, but also help to perform tasks faster and more efficiently.

  • When organising queues, you should take into consideration the following:
  • - Size and capacity of the premises, according to social distancing guidelines
  • - Impact of external queues on neighbouring shops
  • - Possible alternatives to reduce the length of queues

To organise a safe and efficient queueing system, you should take into consideration the following practical recommendations:

Calculate capacity and flow

  • - Calculate your indoor capacity with social distancing measures in mind. Consider how many people can safely fit inside your store with a 2-metre distance from each other, ensuring a safe distance for circulation.
  • - Consider how you have previously operated, taking into account pinch points, dwell spaces and customer behaviour in your premises.
  • - Introduce a one-way flow system to minimise cross-flows of people. If possible, create a separate entry and exit points into and out of the unit. Mark lines on the floor or signage to separate entry and exit.

Organise indoor queues

  • - Define how much space is needed for queues. People should stay 2 metres apart to ensure social distancing. You can use social distancing markers on the floor to help customers keep their distance in queues.
  • - Ensure you are able to maintain a distance of 2 meters between customers and employees or 1 meter with risk mitigation, where 2 meters is not possible.
  • - Let people enter the premises only in small numbers, to ensure that spaces are maintained around your premises. Use employees or stewards to manage access to the store.

Organise external queues

  • - For external queues consider additional 2.5 metres of pavement space for passing pedestrians. If this is not possible, invite people to come back later.
  • - Identify where the queue can be located: queue spaces should not be positioned near live traffic. If it is unavoidable, the queue should be positioned away from the kerb edge as queuing is not permitted on the road.
  • - Street furniture should also be taken into consideration, such as bus stops or waste bins. Work together with neighbouring premises to manage shared queueing areas.

Manage queues appropriately

  • - Identify an agreed queuing capacity (maximum number of people per queue). Make sure to monitor queues to ensure they do not exceed this capacity.
  • - Ensure there is a sufficient number of trained staff or stewards to manage the queuing area.
  • - Ensure signage and marks are visible and displayed in the right locations both at the beginning and at the end of the queues.
  • - Enable efficient communication to ensure staff and customers are provided with accurate information.
  • - At the end of the trading day, only allow customers who are already in the queue to enter the premises before closing.

Reduce queues with pre-ordering

  • - To reduce queues, encourage your customers to use pre-ordering through a click and collect service, email or phone reservations.
  • - If you have an online shop in place, you can create a click and collect, service allowing customers to buy online and then collect at your store.
  • - If you do not have online shop, consider accepting reservations by email, phone or enable text ordering.
  • - Organise collections by appointment only and allocate specific time slots to allow your staff to manage a feasible number of collections per hour.
  • - Customers with pre-orders should avoid entering the store: their collection should be from the entrance door.
  • - Customers and retailers should encourage pre-payment methods and contactless proof of purchase on collection.

Guidelines from the government

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Social distance
Workplace safety