Published: 12:43, 08 April 2020
| Updated: 13:21, 08 April 2020
Counter staff and customers will benefit from extra protection from the spread of coronavirus thanks to new safety measures.
The Post Office has become the latest retail business to erect barriers in stores across Kent in a bid to reduce transmission of the virus to employees who remain at work in essential sectors of the economy.
Supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and installation of additional measures to ensure social distancing is observed has been a point of controversy throughout the pandemic crisis.
Last week Royal Mail workers at the Chatham delivery office walked out in protest against the company's lack of safety measures, while in Medway binmen involved in a row with council bosses over a shortage of PPE called off their threat to go on strike after a deal was agreed.
The roll-out of the new safety features at about 100 Post Office branches in Kent is ongoing and should be completed in the next fortnight.
A Post Office spokesman said: "We are providing all our postmasters with all the latest advice from the UK government as to how to stay safe. Post Offices have been provided with floor markers and other information on posters to help customers stay two metres apart.
"Post Office began installing the first batch of perspex screens at branches last week across the UK with many more to be fitted this week. We intend to have Perspex screens at all branches that don't already have a full-screen counter within the next couple of weeks."
Supermarkets were among the first retail businesses to begin to introduce additional safety measures in the their stores across the county.
In Tesco Express stores, hazard tape has been used to mark out two-metre squares on the floor, with marshals on doors telling shoppers not to share a space with other customers.
Discount chain Lidl has distributed visors for staff to wear, allowing them to converse with customers more safely at a distance. CEO Christian Härtnagel said: "We're committed to ensuring our colleagues and customers feel safe, which is why we’re providing all stores here in Great Britain with safety visors."
Most supermarket chains have also installed screens at tills and checkouts, similar to those being introduced in Post Office branches.
DIY retailer B&Q has also been classified as an essential supplier, just like the food firms, and it has limited business to click-and-collect and home delivery so shoppers can not browse in store.
B&Q chief executive Graham Bell said: "Since we learnt that home and hardware are classified as essential retail, we've been working hard to adapt our business to meet these obligations while keeping our colleagues safe and continuing to meet our customers' needs."