All three of Finland’s major grocery store chains are planning to install plexiglass shields at the store checkout counters in an effort to protect workers from coronavirus infections.
The shields, made out of plexiglass, will be installed between cashiers and customers, in order to reduce the chances of spreading the virus.
Grocery store chain Lidl said it will install the shields at its 186 stores around the country within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, a representative from grocery market leader S-Group said the shields are already going up at some of its stores, and Kesko, the market leader’s biggest competitor, said the plexiglass shield was still in the testing phase but they have already been installed at several of its stores.
Pharmacies and banks
On average, Finland’s more than 800 pharmacies across the country receive in excess of 160,000 daily customer visits, figures which have only increased in recent weeks.
Some of the pharmacies have plans to enclose pharmacists and cashiers in protective shielding entirely.
The transparent plastic shields are being manufactured and delivered to shops by Helsinki-based firm VMP Interior as well as Lasilinkki, a glass installation company from Kuopio.
VMP CEO Veli-Matti Paulasaari said new orders were coming in all the time and that the firm was working at full capacity.
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Some banks, including OP Financial Group, also have plans to install similar shields at face-to-face customer service points. However, banks will decide on their implementation and installation independently.
"To my knowledge, banks are now installing shields in many locations as they become available. For example all our branches in Helsinki already have them," OP Financial Group's director of accounts, payments and financial management, Masa Peura, said.
Shields are currently being installed at OP branches in central Finland, according to the bank’s communications director Pia Saikkonen.
Similar action is being taken at OP banks in northern Savo, according to communications and marketing director Katri Saarelainen.
"We want to protect workers at those offices, as most of them are in a coronavirus risk group," Saarelainen said.
Meanwhile, no shields have been installed at Nordea bank branches yet, but the bank’s retail business director Jari Eloranta, said they would be.
"We plan to move forward as soon as possible. Customer and staff safety is our number one priority and we are investing in ways to protect them," Eloranta said.
The plexiglass shields have been put up at two of Danske Bank's branches in Finland, and the bank said it plans to install more.