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Travel agencies plan post-coronavirus safety measures

High street agents are considering barrier screens, closed-door policies and virtual appointments but say government guidance is crucial to bringing shops out of lockdown.

Travel retailers have started to plan for when they can reopen, with fewer staff in stores, appointment-only systems and masks thought likely to become the norm.

The government is understood to be considering rules to allow more non-essential retailers to open including face masks, socially-distanced queues and one-in-one-out.

Midcounties Co-operative Travel is considering temporary Perspex screens in its agencies. Chief retail officer Alistair Rowland said: “We are working on a plan now to come out of lockdown. We have Perspex screens in our food stores, pharmacies and funeral outlets. They are not that pretty, but it may be what we need to do.”

He expected any return to the high street to be phased and to include giving out hand sanitiser to clients and limiting customer numbers.

Video appointments and face masks are among options being considered by Barrhead Travel following Scottish government proposals. President Jacqueline Dobson said: “We will await further government advice as and when lockdown measures begin to lift.”

Carrick Travel director Tracey Carter said: “We don’t envisage staff back at their desks as normal. We have screens on our list but are not planning to order one per desk because we might have an appointment-only system.”

Tailor Made Travel has already installed screens in branches, while Lincolnshire Co-op Travel has tested a screen for its desks and is considering paperless transactions, removing brochures and introducing plastic chair coverings.

Many agents said it was difficult to make decisions without official advice.

C The World director Carolyn Park has tasked staff to come up with ideas and said appointments behind locked doors and virtual appointments were likely. But she said: “I want some government guidance. We’re not experts on this.”

Spear Travels group operations director Trevor Davis said: “Like most businesses we are keen to get back to normal, whatever normal is. However, we have to follow government advice.” He ruled out Perspex screens.

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