// Major supermarkets have begun early negotiations with contractors over removing plastic screens
// After Freedom Day, Pret a Manger was the first company to remove screens
Retail bosses have begun preparations to remove the plastic screens installed at tills as the UK hopes to return to normal shopping.
According to industry sources, major supermarkets and non-food merchants have begun preliminary negotiations with contractors about how and when they might be removed.
One alternative being investigated is a programme to recycle the screens in bulk and recoup part of the costs associated with their purchase at the start of the pandemic.
Supermarkets spent hundreds of millions of pounds on measures such as screens, antibacterial gel and extra staff at the doors.
The costs were cited by some retailers, including Iceland and Waitrose, as a reason not to pay back the business rates relief even as food sales boomed.
Although no deadline has been set, one removal company is putting together a plan to get rid of them.
After Freedom Day in July, the sandwich chain Pret a Manger was the first company to remove screens saying it would “help speed up service and ensure we limit overcrowding”.
It also swiftly made face masks optional for both staff and its customers.
High street retailers were divided at the time whether to ask customers to keep their face coverings on.
Since July, the Government has asked employers to continue to use measures to reduce any potential spread of Covid but much of the language now involves “encouraging” firms to do so.
A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said that “the screens will stay for the time being, certainly until the case numbers of the pandemic come right down”.