French operator Orange has already opened 30% of its shops and expects to have the rest up and running by the end of the month.
It looks like France is a fair bit further down the road to opening up than the UK, if Orange is anything to go by, but it’s also providing a taste of how society has been changed by the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s opening shops, Orange is also putting a number of measures into place to help people interact with it without leaving the house and to reduce congestion in its shops.
All its communications channels can now be used to access a new booking system that will allow them to reserve a time slot in their nearest shop, thus preventing queuing and unnecessary time spent generally milling about the place. Pretty much everything they might do in the shop can be done remotely these days, but some people like to look someone in the eye before they agree to anything.
On top of that, Orange shops will be littered with the kind of paraphernalia that would have, until recently, been indicative of extreme hypochondria. All the staff will be wearing masks, there will be hand sanitizer pumps everywhere and they will wipe down sales terminals after every use. On top of that there will be the customary floor signs urging social distancing.
While it’s great to see Orange France opening up again, a trip to the store seems like a massive drag under these circumstances. So long as everyone is required to walk around in hazmat suits, flinch from anyone within coughing distance and treat any object that doesn’t smell of surgical spirit with deep suspicion, many people will probably opt to stay in regardless.