Woolworths is trialling a new method to keep customers at a safe distance from each other while shopping in its latest move to prevent coronavirus transmission in stores.
As part of the trial, shoppers have been encouraged to travel in just one direction down each aisle, following arrowed floor markings in a style similar to traffic directions in IKEA stores.
The trial started being rolled out in 10 stores in NSW and Victoria late last week, with a nationwide expansion dependent on it proving effective in boosting adherence to social distancing rules.
“Guides in the aisle will encourage customers to shop in the same direction without needing to pass each other,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“We’ll monitor the trial closely to understand whether one-way aisle directions can encourage better social distancing before determining our next steps.”
The spokesperson said customers were being encouraged to follow the floor markings through stores where this method was being trialled and continue being mindful of staying 1.5 metres from others.
Woolworths’ steps up social distancing rules
The supermarket has also been rolling out customer hand sanitiser stations in all stores, has allocated staff to wipe baskets and trolleys, and introduced screens at checkouts.
There have also been limits placed on the number of customers permitted inside stores at a time.
The payment limit on contactless Tap & Go bank cards has increased to $200 to reduce contamination.
Additional deep cleaning has been introduced and customers have been asked to pack their own groceries if they choose to bring a bag instead of buying a new one.
Shoppers say new policy ‘defeats the purpose’
Some shoppers have complained about the new method being adopted, with one person arguing the arrows did the opposite of their intended purpose.
“Woolworths this is a dumb idea. I don't pass shoppers further away from me and I'm now forced to pass more people over a longer distance while in your store,” the customer, based in NSW, wrote to Facebook.
He was insistent the policy “defeats the purpose” of Woolworths trying to improve in-store social distancing.
Another person agreed, and said it felt pointless having “to walk all the way down an aisle I need nothing in, to then go up another”.
Move follows calls for one-way aisles online
There have previously been calls for supermarkets to introduce one-way shopping, as customers complained it was near impossible to avoid coming in close contact with people in stores.
Mayor of Golden Plains Shire in Victoria, Owen Sharkey, urged supermarkets to “implement stringent rules to maintain social distances” in a Tweet last month.
“Make aisles one way and limit people in store. Very few abiding the strong message that PM and premier gave,” his tweet, which was widely well-received, read.
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