By Asad Cheema
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services on Sunday asked the customers, retailers and traders to strictly follow SOPs related with the business activities to assure safe and healthful working conditions to reduce the impact of COVID-19 spread.
According to an official of Ministry of National Health Services, the government has allowed necessary small and large businesses to meet the public needs with condition to implement the concerned SOPs prepared for store owners, managers and general public or customers.
He said that all concerned business owners and employees in industries should enforce these SOPs and asked the shopkeepers at various markers of federal capital to ensure social distancing to avoid spread of COVID-19.
He said while adopting protective measures at stores, the owners and managers of businesses can prevent the spread of infection among the staff and customers, while ensuring the supply of essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that as per SOPs, the staff should wash hands with soap and water frequently or use an alcohol-based (70%) hand sanitizer besides ensuring the availability of hand sanitizer at the store entrance for the customers.
The official said that it was necessary for shop owners to make sure each customer sanitizes his hand before entering the store and while leaving. It was also mandatory for having thermal guns at entrance and allow customers only after checking temperature.
He said that the customer with cough and flu should not be allowed to enter the store while it should be ensured that the space did not get crowded and allow people to enter the shop only in small groups.
The official said that the customers and salesperson should maintain the safe distance of six feet (preferably two meters) among each other and disinfect the most frequently used surfaces by the customers such as shopping trollies, door handles, cashier counter, product racks etc. with 0.5 per cent diluted bleach or 60 -80 per cent dilute alcohol solution. He said that shop owners should disinfect the floor with bleach or alcohol-based surface cleaner regularly at equal intervals.
He added disinfectant formulations such as sodium hypochlorite with concentration of 5000-6150 ppm to 500-615 ppm free chlorine are used for environmental surface cleaning.
He said that salesperson and receptionist must ensure the use of gloves. The sick staff members should practice social distancing and must keep a track of their symptoms and keep reminding the customer to buy as per their need to prevent hoarding of products.
He asked to ensure the public display of notices promoting hand hygiene and social distancing inside the stores as well as outside the stores, buildings and plaza. He also advised to ensure queue control, maintaining the advice of six feet distance, outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.
The store manager and staff must keep themselves updated with the updated instructions issued by the government and show strict compliance to them.
Similarly, customers should avoid going to the store or market if suffering from fever, cough or flu. They should also make sure to sanitize their hands before and after the shopping.
He said that customers should avoid touching the surfaces unnecessarily and maintain distance of six feet from salesperson or other customer within the store. He said that all concerned should follow the safety guidance provided by the store management and cooperate with the staff.
He asked the citizens that if anyone observes no compliance to these SOPs by the store management, play responsible role and inform the local authorities. He said that in this global health crisis, it is vital that all businesses of high or small scale act responsibly and adhere to all SOPs.