WAITROSE in Thatcham has been praised by many on local Facebook groups for implementing new policies and prioritising vulnerable people amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Shops providing the country with essential goods have outlined how they plan to keep staff and customers safe during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Waitrose has backed the government's plea for social distancing with what it calls "a set of strong, new measures" to help its customers shop safely.

The company said the number of customers allowed in at any one time will be limited so that social distancing can be observed, and a "one in, one out" policy will be operated when it is judged that the shop is at capacity.

Customers coming to Waitrose will see marshals who will help to manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind people to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

Stores will also dedicate the first opening hour to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them, while NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

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There will also be "safe distance" floor signage, protective screens at checkouts, and additional security.

Morrisons, which has already put up perspex screens, is introducing signage in stores to support social distancing, including floor stickers, posters and banners which will ask customers to keep one trolley distance apart, as well as giving guidance on where to wait and where to queue.

Asda has also announced similar measures, saying it will introduce floor markers and directional barriers to help customers keep their distance, and will install perspex screens at its checkouts. Hand sanitiser will be available for customers to use when entering and departing.

Marks & Spencer recently said its 31 outlet stores selling only clothing and homeware will be temporarily closed.

M&S said when customers arrive at its food stores, they will see a "greeter" who will ensure the number of customers in the store at any one time is managed.

Workers redeployed from the clothing and home departments will help support limiting customer numbers entering the store.

M&S said trolleys, baskets, screens and all touch points will be cleaned every hour and deep cleaned every night.

The stores will have floor markings in queuing areas to remind customers about social distancing and "sneeze guards" will be in place.

Customers will be asked not to scan their Sparks card and cash payments are discouraged.