These are the steps retail shops must take to reopen

Sun, 05/10/2020 - 9:45am

    Retail shops in 12 of Maine’s 16 counties can reopen for business beginning Monday, May 11 so long as they follow a set of guidelines (appearing below). 

    Under the newly released plan by Governor Janet Mills, retail stores will be permitted to open in-store operations, with enhanced safety precautions, in counties where community transmission is not present.

    Those counties are Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc.



    • Require employees to wear cloth face coverings and to practice good hand hygiene with frequent handwashing and especially between contact with customers and customer equipment.

    • Where possible, stagger employee shifts and meal breaks to avoid crowding.

    • Ensure employees stay 6 feet apart whenever practical.

    •  Adjust seating in break rooms and other common areas to reflect physical distancing practices.

    • Prohibit gatherings or meetings of employees of 10 or more during working hours.

    • Permit employees to take breaks and lunch outside, or in such other areas where physical distancing is attainable.

    •  Do not allow employee food or drink in retail area.

    •  Limit interaction between employees and outside visitors or truck drivers; implement touchless receiving practices if possible.

    •  Adjust training/onboarding practices to limit number of people involved and allow for six foot spacing; use virtual/video/audio training when possible.

    • Discourage employees from using colleagues’ phones, desks, workstations, radios, handhelds/wearables, or other work tools and equipment.

    •  Provide employees training:
    o physical distancing guidelines and expectations
    o monitoring personal health
    o proper wear, removal, disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    o laundering of face coverings and uniforms as listed below
    o cleaning protocols as listed below (or per CDC)
    o how to monitor personal health and body temperature at home.
    o guidance on how to launder cloth face coverings and uniforms: see CDC, Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility, How to Disinfect: Laundry
    o cleaning protocol, including how to safely and effectively use cleaning supplies.

    •  Consider employee training in safe de‐escalation techniques.


    •  Customers should wear cloth face coverings.

    •  Inform your customers of your COVID policies and procedures in advance, if possible.

    •  Place signage at entrances and throughout the store alerting staff and customers to the required occupancy limits, six feet of physical distance, and policy on cloth face covering.

    •  Encourage customers to limit the number of people they bring into the business. Solo shop when possible.

    •  Support physical distance between customer and personnel by taping off six feet distance from counters, service desks, and sales stations.

    •  Consider installing plexiglass barriers to maximize physical distancing.

    •  Post signage if you have to limit quantities of certain items.

    •  Consider offering exclusive early hours to seniors and other high‐risk individuals.

    •  Discourage people from touching merchandise they are not going to purchase.

    •  Consider adjusting store hours of operation, as necessary, to support social distancing efforts by limiting store traffic.



    •  Retailers will regulate the number of customers allowed in stores based on the following chart: 

    Square Feet Number of Customers Allowed
    Less than 7,500 5
    7,500 to 12,000 15
    12,001 to 18,000 35
    18,0001 to 40,000 45
    40,001 to 60,000 70
    60,001 or more 100

    • Provide distance markers located outside of store for times when capacity limits are exceeded; this will allow for queuing while maintaining physical distance; employees can also be assigned to assist customers with waiting to enter.

    •  Consider ways to maximize air flow, if practical, to increase fresh air circulation (e.g. opening windows, or doors)

    •  Note that staff or customer use of elevators or escalators will require regular attention to physical distance guidelines and frequent cleaning of high‐touch surfaces.

    •  Minimize shared touch surfaces such as kiosks, tablets, pens, credit cards, receipts and keys.

    •  Establish procedure for regularly disinfecting inventory and newly received deliveries.

    •  Establish protocols for handling and processing shipping and receipts (including disinfection).

    •  Advise workers, contractors, drivers, and vendors that they are required by Executive Order #49 FY 19/20 to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises.

    •  Notify vendors of re‐opening, and any revised protocol as it relates to store entry, deliveries, paperwork, etc.

    •  Consider implementing measures to ensure vendor safety, including:
    o Disabling/suspending access (e.g., suspending all non‐employee truck drivers from entering stores, warehouses and manufacturing plants).
    o Transitioning to contactless signatures/e‐signatures for deliveries.
    o Where practical, adjusting store delivery windows to spread out deliveries.

    • Request that vendors accessing your store locations direct their employees to follow all social distancing guidelines and health directives issued by the applicable public authorities.

    • Require regular and frequent sanitization of high‐touch areas like restrooms, doors, PIN pads, and common areas that are accessible to staff, customers, and suppliers.

    • Ensure operating hours allow downtime between shifts for thorough cleaning.

    • Provide sanitization materials, such as sanitizing wipes, to employees to clean handhelds/wearables, scanners, radios, or other work tools and equipment before/after use.

    •  Clean and disinfect high‐touch areas routinely.

    • Consider providing cleaning “kits” including disinfectant wipes or sprays, disposable gloves, paper towels, cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies are readily accessible throughout store, including point of sale terminals and other stations that will be cleaned periodically throughout the day.


    •  Promote “Contactless” Shopping Options
    o On‐line shopping
    o Contactless payment options (e.g., RFID credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
    o Self‐checkout
    o Pickup and delivery services

    •  Wash hands or use alcohol‐based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) after handling cash.

    •  Note that the use of customer reusable shopping bags is not allowed at this time.

    •  Consider increasing pickup hours to serve more online customers.

    •  Maintain physical distancing including at point‐of‐sale terminals and other workstations

    Returns and Exchanges

    •  Consider suspending or modifying return and exchange policies.

    • Establish procedures for processing, handling, disinfecting, and storing returns in isolation for a safe time period before returning them to sales floor.

    Fitting Rooms

    • Fitting rooms should not be open at this time.


    Other Operational Considerations

    •  Widen high‐traffic areas to the extent store configuration allows.

    •  Note that areas of cleaning focus for retail business include:
    o Shopping carts and baskets.
    o Door and drawer handles.
    o Light and other power switches (consider signage to keep lights on at all times, or utilizing exiting motion sensor capabilities).
    o Shared tools such as pricing guns, pallet jacks, tape guns, box cutters, etc.
    o Chairs, tables, and benches.
    o Refrigerators, microwave, and other frequently touched objects and surfaces in employee breakroom.
    o Time clocks
    o Point of sale/checkout:
    o Cash register, including touch screens, keyboards, mouse.
    o PIN Pads (touch screen, keypad, and pen).
    o Checkout counter and/or conveyor belt.
    o Checkout dividers.
    o Restrooms (toilet bowl, toilet paper holder, flush lever, sinks and faucets, paper towel holders and/or air dryers, and diaper‐changing stations.) 

    • Note that vending machines are not recommended at this time due to the challenge of keeping  surfaces clean.

    • Provide hand sanitizer in the store for customers and employee use, including store entrance(s), and checkouts.

    •  Remove any flyers, sales brochures, pricing lists that multiple customers might handle unless intended for single‐use only.

    •  Consider one‐way aisles where practical.

    • Suspend “self‐service” food stations and the sampling of food or personal care products.

    •  Remove “tester” products such as hand lotion or perfumes.

    •  Recommend allowing only service animals in business at this time.

    •  Avoid special events/promotions that could draw large numbers of the public to the business at
    one time.

    Special Protocols for Home Delivery/Installation Employees

    •  Wear protective cloth face coverings during in‐home delivery and/or installation services.

    •  Wash hands or use alcohol‐based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) between deliveries.

    •  Ensure proper social distancing between employee and customer.

    •  Clean and disinfect any surfaces that will be regularly contacted throughout the duration of any installation.

    •  When delivery/installation is complete, clean and disinfect all surfaces that were contacted throughout installation.

    •  Clean and disinfect any tools or supplies used throughout delivery/installation upon leaving the home.