Central England Co-op has announced that it is planning to install plastic screens at all till points as part of its efforts to keeps colleagues and customers safe during the coronavirus crisis.

The retailer, which has 22 forecourts in its estate, has also announced that bread from its in-store bakery will no longer be unwrapped.

The co-op society had already reduced its opening hours to allow colleagues to clean stores and replenish shelves as well as ensuring they get more time with their families to rest and recuperate.

It has also brought forward its annual share of profits and increased its colleague discount as a “thank you” to all those who have gone above and beyond at this time.

In addition, it revealed it has had an unprecedented response to its recruitment drive with 500 new staff, as well colleagues redeploying from other parts of its family of businesses, now working in its stores across 16 counties.

Central England Co-op chief executive Debbie Robinson said: “Our colleagues and key workers are doing everything they can to ensure our communities continue to be supported during this uncertain time.

“In the spirit of co-operation, we wanted to say thank you by giving them a little something to showcase our gratitude for their hard work and dedication.

“We also wanted to say welcome to all of our new colleagues who have joined in the past few days. Thank you and good luck in your new roles.

“If you’re able to say thank you to our colleagues and to key workers when you see them, we are sure they would really appreciate the support at this time. Please be kind and respectful to everyone around you.”

The retailer recently launched a range of measures to help those whose lives have been affected by the Coronavirus.

This includes:

• An urgent food bank appeal to support its charity partners after they reported a major fall in donations at the same time as a spike in demand;

• Donations to FareShare Midlands and Dementia UK to allow them to continue their vital community services.

In its food stores, the Society also has in place a temporary limit of two of every product to help maintain stock levels but has reassured customers that there are no issues with its supply lines and that shops are getting daily deliveries.