Browsed books will be 'put into quarantine if touched by customers', says Waterstones boss

Browsing books could become a thing of the past as shops implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (David Levenson/Getty Images)

Waterstones will introduce a coronavirus quarantine system for books that have been browsed but not bought, the bookseller’s head has said.

As England prepares for an easing of lockdown rules, many shops and businesses are making plans to reopen.

Waterstones boss James Daunt has said that if you browse a book and don’t buy it, you’ll have to place it on a trolley.

Books will then be wheeled away and put in quarantine for three days before going back on shelves, he said.

Head of Waterstones James Daunt told a reporter that a 'quarantine process' would have to be introduced to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Harry Wallop/Twitter)

A spokesperson from Waterstones confirmed the measures.

She said: “We are well prepared to open our shops as soon as we are permitted to do so. We will do so cautiously, with extensive measures in place to ensure the safety of both our booksellers and our customers.

The head of Waterstones has suggested browsed books could be 'quarantined' to prevent the spread of coronavirus when bookstores are allowed to reopen. (Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“The actions we will take include investment in equipment from sneeze guards to sanitiser stations, in the procurement of PPE for our booksellers, in the instruction and signage to support social distancing and we will provide trolleys so that browsed books are removed for appropriate quarantine off the shop floor. 

“We learn from the experience of our European bookselling colleagues – notably in Italy and Germany - who have reopened their shops ahead of us in the UK.”

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Waterstones, which has almost 300 branches across the UK, is not the only business preparing itself to operate differently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a series of measures to enable the capital’s transport infrastructure to adapt to social distancing measures.

In a statement issued to Yahoo News UK, Transport for London said: “TfL is introducing a range of further measures.

“Hand sanitiser points will start to be introduced across the transport network over the coming weeks, with points to be installed at every Tube and TfL rail station.

They will also be installed in all bus stations. The rigorous cleaning regime for buses, trains and stations will continue.”

All taxi and private hire companies and drivers are being asked by TfL to put protective measures in place including ensuring face coverings are worn by drivers.

Schools across England are also preparing to implement social distancing guidelines to enable them to reopen for Foundation classes and years one and six from 1 June.

On Sunday, the Department of Health said 34,636 COVID-19 patients have died in the UK. The figure was up 170 from Saturday’s death toll of 34,466.

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