Several supermarket chains across Estonia have reduced their opening hours to help stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and have introduced measures to limit the exposure of their staff.
All Rimi stores across Estonia will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the retailer has announced.
“We have made the decision to reduce the operating hours of all Rimis in order for it to be possible to conduct the disinfection of surfaces and placement of goods in stores with appropriate thoroughness every day,” Rimi Estonia CEO Vaido Padumae said in a press release.
The CEO said Rimi Estonia was doing its utmost to keep the operation of stores and availability of foodstuffs stable.
He pointed out that the company also needed to cover the jobs that might be affected by the spread of the virus and therefore it needed to mobilize workforce. Because of that, a few smaller express stores of Rimi will be closed.
Rimi Estonia said that while the new operating hours were tentatively in effect until April 30, the situation might change further in the next few days.
It is also essential that people with symptoms refrain from visiting stores. Over the course of March 17, relevant notifications were displayed on digital screens and posters in Rimi stores and customers were informed via store radio. Rimi’s recommendations for customers are based on the recommendations of relevant national authorities.
Prisma said on March 16 that all their stores in Estonia would continue with normal operating hours.
Selver will not cut their store hours due to the coronavirus, as longer opening hours allow to maximally spread client flow.
Selver also asked customers to visit stores during the daytime and avoid making store visits in the company of others.
AS Selver Board Member Kristi Lomp said: “The shorter the opening hours of stores, the more people there will be in a store at a time. Our main aim is to ensure the safety of people and the availability of goods. Dispersed store visits and going to a store alone are the best measures at present.”
She added that a strict recommendation by them in the current situation was to visit a store alone, not during peak hours, and use self-service checkout, which precluded close contacts.
“We ask customers to disinfect their hands before and after using self-service scanners, carts or shopping baskets – necessary equipment is available in stores,” Lomp said.
Lomp said that despite the difficult situation, the shelves of stores continued to be full of goods, and she thanked all Selver employees for excellently coping with the unexpected surge in volumes.
While Selver stores have sufficient supplies of goods, there are delays in the home delivery of goods ordered via e-Selver, where capacity however is starting to catch up with the manifold increase in demand as the company has hired additional personnel to put together orders.
Hundreds of people have responded to Selver’s call for people on unpaid leave and those made redundant to come to work at Selver, who have been of great help in coping with the increased workload, Lomp said.
Maxima is shortening the opening hours of all its stores by two hours in order to maintain the quality of customer service as well as availability and display of goods in the stores. The daily opening hours of all Maxima stores is from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Maxima Estonia manager Edvinas Volkas said in the current situation it was important to provide customers with the goods and services that they were used to under normal circumstances.
“Based on this, we have made the decision to change the opening hours of our stores and, starting from March 17, all Maxima stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” Volkas said.
By altering the store hours, the company is shortening the workday of employees by two hours and, through that, can enable employees more flexible work schedules, he added.
Based on the recommendations of the Health Board, all Maxima stores will be equipped with floor markings regarding the recommended distance between customers.
All stores undergo disinfection of contact areas several times a day, and in-depth cleaning is carried out daily throughout the stores.
Customers are offered the opportunity to disinfect their hands at entry and exit. Maxima is also planning additional measures to ensure the safety of its employees through personalized disinfectants and face masks.
Martin Miido, Coop’s communications manager, said many cooperatives had shortened the opening hours of their stores, and many were still thinking about it.
“Each cooperative acts at its own discretion,” said Miido. No stores are closed.
Coop’s stores started to improve hygiene even before the crisis: all common surfaces, such as door handles, shopping carts, smart cash registers, cash registers and more, are being cleaned regularly. Hand disinfection can now be found in stores and masks and gloves have been given to staff.
Coop is not currently suffering from labor shortages.
In a statement on facebook Comarket wrote: “We are temporarily shortening shop opening hours from March 16. We will open our stores at the normal times, but close all stores earlier, at 8 p.m. To prevent the virus from spreading, we have taken a number of preventive measures, such as constantly cleaning baskets, trolleys, payment terminals, worktops, and all other surfaces that are more exposed to customer safety.”
Customers are also asked to avoid direct contact with staff if possible and to pay by card instead of cash.
Department store Stockman also reduced opening hours from March 18. The first floor is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the rest from 11 a.m. to 7.pm. Customers are being asked not to pay with cash.
Food delivery services Bolt and Wolt have added no-contact options to their services when they deliver. (ERR/Business World Magazine)