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Retail giant Aeon Co. plans to draw up its own protocol this month aimed at preventing close contact between customers or employees at its stores in order to avoid infection with the new coronavirus, President Akio Yoshida has said.

The move comes as more expect the fight against the virus to take a long time. The period in which business activities are conducted amid infection risks will last some time, Yoshida said in an interview Tuesday.

Aeon will standardize anti-infection measures for each type of business it operates, such as shopping malls, supermarkets and convenience stores, to ensure that all group companies can continue operations, he said, adding that the protocol will be compiled based on advice from experts.

The protocol will, among other things, stipulate how much distance people should maintain from each other when using escalators and limiting the number of people in elevators.

Yoshida sounded upbeat on Aeon’s online supermarket business, which is conducted in cooperation with major British online retailer Ocado. “We have gained new customers (thanks to stay-at-home trends amid the epidemic), and I’m sure that the business will not decline after the virus crisis settles down.”

Aeon plans to continue software investment to maintain a high level of functionality in systems used to operate the online supermarket business, he said.

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