Australian Supermarkets Impose Strict Rules for Shopping Bags

Shoppers are now responsible for packing their own grocery bags at supermarket, Coles.
Shoppers are now responsible for packing their own grocery bags at supermarket, Coles.

March 27, 2020 — As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads worldwide, food retailers in Australia are responding to the crisis by imposing strict measures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Coles, a large supermarket chain, has announced stringent new procedures such as increased cleaning and sanitizing, proper personal hygiene, physical distancing and reducing contact at the checkout.

Steven Cain, the CEO of Coles, stated in a letter to customers: “We know that health and safety is front of mind for lots of our customers at the moment, and we want to let you know that we’re working closely with the Department of Health to ensure the most effective protection for both you and our team members in our stores during the COVID-19 situation.”

Included in the new measures is the rule that shoppers must be responsible for packing their own grocery bags. The hope is that this will reduce the extent of food handling and close contact between checkout staff and customers.

Other chains consider shopping bag options

On the contrary, Woolworths is considering bringing back free bags in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. The issue with this proposal is the lack of stock that is needed to offer free bags to all customers.

In response to questions about the potential idea, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Brad Banducci stated, “The team are working through that issue as we talk and we will make further announcements over the weekend, but we are listening to our team and taking the advice seriously.”

It is evident that supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths are aware of their role during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also clear that deciding on ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 within food retail establishments is a complicated task.

Steps to protect both staff and customers

Food retailers are seeing a significant increase in customers due to the public being encouraged to stay indoors, which leads to increased meal preparation at home. During this peak, supermarkets throughout Australia are imposing these new measures in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect both staff and customers. These decisions can be difficult to make and the new measures are not always easy to enforce. However, these steps are essential to slow the spread of COVID-19 as it continues to make its way throughout Australia.