Grocers are planning to ditch the perspex screens at tills which protect shop workers and customers from catching Covid-19.
According to The Telegraph, supermarkets are talking to contractors over when the barriers might be taken away.
A senior executive said: “They don’t want the removal to be just another plastic crime that occurs, so we’ve started those discussions.”
Although no deadline has been set, at least one removal company is putting together a plan “to get rid of” the screens.
One option being discussed is recycling them to recoup some of the purchase costs.
The move is likely to prove controversial, with Sainsbury’s hit by a backlash from shoppers when it removed screens between self-service checkouts in July.
“I was extremely disappointed to get to the self checkout today to find all of the screens gone,” one customer tweeted to the Big 4 grocer.
“I prefer you, but I will jump ship if another store offers better customer protection!”
.@sainsburys, I was extremely disappointed to get to the self checkout today to find all of the screens gone.
Why? Case numbers are high & many aren't wearing masks. I prefer you, but I will jump ship if another store offers better customer protection!
— Valerie E. Vancollie 🇧🇪 (@VEVancollie) July 26, 2021
My local Sainsbury’s have removed the clear screens between each self service till. Whilst I understand restrictions have been lifted, I find it odd that you would actively remove a physical measure which helps to keep people safe.
— PrimaryCoHead (@PrimaryCoHead) July 19, 2021
The British Retail Consortium downplayed the screen removals, claiming they will “stay… until the case numbers of the pandemic come right down”.
Supermarkets have spent millions in response to Covid-19, installing plastic barriers, buying hand sanitiser, and paying quarantined staff.
When Sainsbury’s slumped to a £261 million loss last year despite soaring sales, it blamed its £485 million Covid costs.
Some retailers, including Waitrose and the Co-op, have cited the extra expenses as a reason not to pay back their business rates relief.