Pet shops are allowed to open under the restrictions introduced by the Government last night (23 March).
According to guidance on gov.uk here these are the shops that can remain open: supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.
It is of course up to each individual business as to whether you stay open to the public. You know your personal circumstances and those of your staff and how practical it is to stay operating some kind of service within your premises to enable your customers to get essential supplies for their animals, like food and medicines/treatments or replacement kit that has broken down.
If you decide to close to the public totally we believe you can still travel to your shop to look after the animals under your care. You should carry some kind of proof of where you work to explain to officials should you be asked.
Below are some ideas on what to think about to safeguard your staff and customers if you stay open.
- Remember to keep safe and well – follow the latest advice from Gov.UK and the NHS on ways you can protect your and your staff if you are open to the public e.g. regular hand washing with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds etc, wiping down surfaces regularly.
- Place tape markers on shop floors 2 metres apart and tell customers to use these markers to keep a safe distance from each other. Place such markers near to tills so those queuing to pay 2 metres distance apart.
- Use markers to introduce a one way lane around your store so that customers avoid being within 2 metres of each other
- Take payments via contactless card payments and clean/wipe down card machines regularly
- Limit the number of customers who can be in the shop at any one time. Have a clear sign on the door that explains your system eg knock and wait before coming in or what is your limit on customer numbers in the shop at any one time.
- Introduce a ‘click and collect’ system so people can order ah This will enable you to package items up and leave it in a place before customers approach to pick it up.
- If possible sort out a home delivery for customers in your area which will also help to ensure people are going out infrequently. Set out a defined geographical area for such deliveries and communicate this clearly with customers.
- Make a clear list of the essential products you will sell so customers know what they can purchase. We would suggest this is limited to food, medicines/treatments and replacement equipment that has broken down.
- Think about supply chains to ensure you can help as many customers as you can. We would suggest you do not let people ‘stockpile’ so establish buying rules on numbers if you think that is appropriate. We are currently working with other pet trade associations to ensure supply chain businesses can still work to ensure you remain stocked.
- Keep your websites up to date! Tell customers what you are doing to protect public health. Make sure you have information prominently on your home page about whether you are open, what people need to do to when they visit your shop to buy essential supplies, what you will sell (make clear what you won’t sell as well), if they can buy online and if you are operating a home delivery service in your town
- If you have social media channels keep these up to date as well. ‘Pin’ a post at the top of your feed explaining how you are selling and what – eg online, home delivery etc. Seek out local Facebook groups for your town and post information on that.
- Make a short video explaining what you are doing in your shop, what you will sell, how and to whom and post this on your social media channels and relevant local Facebook groups.
- Post offices are still open but think about how you can safely visit these to send items through the post.
We have other ideas on our Covid-19 information hub for businesses which can found at https://ornamentalfish.org/what-we-do/advice-information/covid-19/