// Waterstones CEO James Daunt says books will be quarantined for at least 3 days if picked up but not bought
// Other protective measures include perspex screens at tills, limits on number of shoppers, and a one-way system in stores
Waterstones’ chief executive has said books will be quarantined if customers pick them up but do not purchase them.
James Daunt said the books would be quarantined for at least three days to protect customers from any potential health risk.
This is due to evidence that Covid-19 can live on clothes for two days and on paper for up to a week.
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Books that have been touched will be taken out of circulation for several days before being returned to the shop floor.
Other measures to protect staff and customers will include perspex screens in front of tills, limits on the number of shoppers, a one-way system in stores and the closure of cafes as Waterstones adapts to physical distancing measures.
The book retailer has seen online sales rise more than 300 per cent during lockdown as the closure of all bookstores since the end of March has strengthened demand.
The stores closed shortly before the UK government imposed a lockdown as staff said they felt unsafe.
“We will still have tables displaying books, but we will have systems in place to ensure books that are browsed do not remain on sale,” Daunt said.
“We will ask customers that pick up a book to put it down on a trolley that we can then wheel away.
“I think customers will find that easy to understand. Book customers are very nice people who behave well. I can’t imagine we will have a problem with this.”
Waterstones’ turnover is currently running at 40 per cent, with customers turning to online shopping.
Meanwhile, high street clothing stores are expected to follow the government’s guidance and impose a similar quarantine system for clothes that have been tried on but not purchased.
The latest government guidance states that retailers must “consider very carefully whether fitting rooms should be open, given the challenges in operating them safely”.
Fitting rooms are expected to be cleaned between each use and there should be no close contact between staff and customers.
Returned items should be kept separate from other stock until stores are satisfied that it is safe to put them back into circulation.