Social Distancing in Stores is the New Norm

Since the coronavirus (Convid-19) crisis began, social distancing is increasingly used as an alternative to prevent the spread of the disease. In the commercial sector, it is also having an impact and changing the way we buy.

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Let’s start by understanding what social distancing is. It’s a way of controlling contagious diseases by trying to stop or slow the spread of a virus. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of contact between people who may be infected, decrease transmission, and decrease mortality.

In some cities in the United States, such as Austin, they are establishing a mandatory order that stores require social distancing within the stores. The order states that “stores such as pharmacies, supermarkets, and wholesale clubs” need controls to decrease the spread.

That means establishing a distance of 6 feet between the people who are waiting in line, both at the entrance and inside the stores.

Stores are using signs or lines on the floors to help customers to keep their distance from each other.

In cities like Qatar, this preventive and precautionary measure is established as an article within the Consumer Protection Law, and anyone who does not comply with the measure will be punished.

The effectiveness of the social distancing measure requires store management and employees to enforce it by educating customers or reminding them of the importance of personal responsibility to reduce infection. 

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Stores like Costco are already implementing the measure, as well as applying the limitation of the number of customers inside the store, “one customer-in, one customer-out. Also, they are closing the cafeterias, and other stores are putting signs on chairs, to prevent customers from sitting too close.

Other measures being observed in the stores are signs on the floors to help customers keep their distance from each other as they line up to pay for their purchases.

Of course, you have to understand the issue of personal space that depends on each culture, especially among Americans. When a Latino gets too close, the word “permiso” is always heard in a store aisle. In part, that’s because, in Latin American countries, most people live in small spaces and crowded cities. That’s why the personal space for Latinos is narrower than that of Americans, and we don’t mind them getting very close to us.

Personal space also depends on people’s age and social status. Among Americans, it can be from 18 inches to 4 feet, and it is a cultural norm. They feel uncomfortable or nervous if someone gets too close, especially if they are in a line or if someone crosses them. It can be considered impolite, invasive, and even intimidating.   

Latinos now more than ever need to become aware and understand the personal and social-cultural space, “when close is too close”. We must take steps to respect American culture and especially now to prevent the spread of the virus.

We must maintain the distance between work colleagues and clients. Leave a little affection and close physical contact in this time of “social distancing” for our personal health and safety. It is never too late to change a cultural habit in our workplaces and to be vigilant about distancing ourselves from others. Our employees and customers will appreciate that we protect their health in our stores during the coronavirus crisis.