The contactless payment limit is to rise as supermarkets and convenience stores move to keep staff and customers as safe as possible amid lockdown conditions across the UK.

Ahead of Boris Johnson’s address to the nation, in which he appealed for people to stay at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the banking industry group UK Finance announced that contactless payment restrictions were to be eased.

It said that, from 1 April, the new £45 limit – up from the current £30 – would be applied at many stores, though it would take longer to roll out across the retail network as a whole.

It was aimed at reducing the need for physical contact with devices, where people need to input their pin number, and handling cash.

The measure was announced as grocers and pharmacies became the key services to remain open in the lockdown conditions.

Waitrose said it was bolstering social distancing measures within its stores in a bid to keep staff, known as partners, and customers as safe as possible.

The supermarket chain was to limit customer numbers in-store, introduce ‘safe distance’ floor signage and deploy, what it described as, ‘two-metre marshals’ to help manage queues.

Protective screens were also being erected at checkouts where contactless shopping was to be encouraged.

Other chains were expected to announce similar restrictions.

Waitrose customer service director Bérangère Michel said: The health of our partners and customers has always been our number one priority and we fully support social distancing.

While these measures will dramatically change how people shop and interact with others in our stores for the moment – they are absolutely vital to ensure that our customers can shop safely and that our partners are protected as they go above and beyond to serve shoppers in this time of crisis.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: Contactless payment limit rises as stores bolster distancing measures