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Pack your own bags, Coles tells shoppers

Signage at a Coles supermarket in Sydney, Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Australia's second-biggest grocery chain, Coles Group Ltd, posted a sharper-than-expected fall in half-year earnings on Tuesday and said costs were rising faster than sales, sending its shares lower. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Coles has told shoppers to pack their own groceries to limit the spread of coronavirus (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Coles has told shoppers to pack their own groceries to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The supermarket giant has written to customers with a new set of rules aimed at keeping its stores safe for shoppers and staff.

People have been told they must not enter stores if they are sick, and should handle their own bags and pack their own groceries.

They have also been asked to wash or sanitise their hands before entering stores and shoppers must stay 1.5 metres away from others at all times.

Special directions will be provided at checkouts to make sure people in queues don't get too close.

The retailer is spending an extra $1 million a week on extra security guards and cleaning, with special attention paid to sanitising high contact surfaces including trolleys, baskets, and checkout areas.

Customers are also being encouraged to pay via tap-and-go.

Masks and gloves are not recommended for shopping, in line with health department advice.

Bakery departments are also making changes, with items including bread baked on site to be pre-wrapped to ensure products are not contaminated.

Checkout staff will also be regularly rotated.

"We know this is a big change for customers, and we are asking that we can all work together and make that happen from today," Coles Chief Operations Officer Matt Swindells told the Nine network.

So far Woolworths has not told its customers to pack their own groceries.

But it is rolling out so called sneeze screens at its manned checkouts, along with extra security guards.

Plexiglass screens have already been installed at some stores, with the rest to follow in coming weeks.

It is also enforcing social distancing, with staff greeting shoppers to wipe down baskets and trolleys, and directing people to information boards about how how to maintain a safe distance, and details about purchasing limits on some products.

Woolies is also keeping some self-serve and express checkouts closed, to ensure people are not too close to each other.

Aldi has always required its customers to pack their own groceries.

It has also introduced in-store advice about social distancing, and is installing screens at its checkouts.

© AAP 2020