Keeping lineups in line with public health guidelines

A local streetscape planner shares best practices for businesses managing physically distanced lineups, with advice on signage, exits, and customer traffic. 

Photo of customers in a lineup outside of supermarket, keeping physically distanced.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Marc Bruxelle

Public health guidelines in B.C. advise people to keep at least 2 metres apart to prevent transmission of COVID-19. For businesses whose doors open onto streets with pedestrian traffic, this posed new challenges in managing not only lineups but the flow of people entering, exiting, and passing by.

In response, local governments and businesses are working together to allocate space that allows for physical distancing between people in lineups and passing pedestrians. Recently I spoke with Streetscape Planner, Edison Ting about how the City of North Vancouver is responding to these challenges.

“It’s definitely a learning process for us — not just in North Vancouver but in other cites as well. Over the past few months, we have applied a number of physical distancing measures in response to the rapidly evolving situation,” Edison says. “For any businesses that required assistance, we mentored them on best practices to direct their lineups. For instance, we have temporary, repurposed on-street parking in front of grocery stores to make room for lineups and prevent crowding on the sidewalk.”

Best practices for managing line-ups during the pandemic

Edison says that most businesses have been proactive in devising their own lineup systems, and he recommends the following best practices.

The first is related to storefront signs. Edison says: “We asked businesses to place signage as close to the curb as possible to allow enough room for customers to line up in front of the store and to prevent unnecessary congestion on the sidewalk.”

Second, Edison suggests that businesses have staff on hand to monitor lineups and accommodate customer traffic entering and exiting, if possible. And his third suggestion is to apply temporary marking on the sidewalk to advise customers on where to line up.

Overall, customers seem to be getting used to these new procedures. “In the beginning, a lot more engagement was required,” Edison says. “Since we’ve had this pandemic for a few months now, I think people are more aware of physical distancing measures and it’s become almost second nature.”

For more information, see the City of North Vancouver’s COVID-19 Support for Businesses and WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 information and resources. Thank you to all customers, businesses, and local governments for working together to improve health and safety for everyone. #DoYourPartBC

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