Retailers, shopping centre owners and shop assistants have joined forces to sell a plan to get people back into their stores and protect everyone’s health.

As the nation’s leaders meet to work out how to ease restrictions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, the five peak retail bodies have offered their suggestions for a recovery protocol.

Some major retail companies, including Myer and Premier Investments – the company behind Smiggle, Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Dotti – have voluntarily closed stores and stood down staff until May 11.

Governments have also ordered food courts closed along with restaurants, cafes and bars, although they can provide takeaway.

The suggestions to enable a safe reopening of shops include providing hand sanitiser at centre entrances, regular cleaning of surfaces and working on ways to make sure the 1.5-metre distance is kept between customers and workers.

The protocol also recommends retailers check on their employees’ wellbeing each day, monitor customer behaviour to crack down on any abuse towards workers, as well as ensuring open and frequent communication between centre management and shopkeepers.

The aim is to make sure everyone is kept informed of updates to public health directions and to give workers and customers good hygiene advice.

The Australian Retailers Association says the joint protocol gives the clarity and consistency shopkeepers are seeking.

“Retailers have made an enormous effort to protect staff and shoppers, working tirelessly to create a safe and healthy in environment through the lockdown period and now as most businesses prepare to reopen and serve their customers,” chief executive Paul Zahra said.

The protocol has been agreed by the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, the National Retail Association, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Australian Retailers Association.