Using a shopping cart in the supermarket has been mandatory for almost a year now, but research from the University of Amsterdam shows that it does not help people respect the 1.5 metres social distance.
By asking clients of a local supermarket in Veldhoven in the Netherlands to hang a small transmitter around their neck, the researchers registered how often customers came within 1.5 metres of each other for two weeks.
The results showed that customers who took a shopping cart came as close to other customers as often as those without. Additionally, most contacts in the supermarket last less than ten seconds.
While the research showed that mandatory shopping carts do not work to remind people to keep their distance, a promised small reward did get the job done.
When customers were promised a bag of Easter eggs or biscuits if they kept enough distance while shopping, the researchers registered fewer and shorter close contacts between people.
“Our research results provide concrete starting points for stimulating social distancing in practice effectively and positively,” researcher Tessa Blanken told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
“Shops can use a traffic light system to regulate the traffic, and a reward system to encourage people to keep their distance,” she added. “We have shown that this works, so it would be nice if it were also put into practice.”