Much of the world’s knowledge of Sweden is focused on IKEA, and perhaps Volvo and ABBA for the more Scandinavia-aware. Many of us love the furniture, get lost in the labyrinth, play pretend house by sitting in their comfy couches in the pre-designed rooms and then stuff ourselves full of the ubiquitous meatballs and almond cake.
When the lockdown regulations were lifted, many of us hauled ass to the nearest IKEA because being confined at home made us realize that we simply could not bear to look at the vase we got from mom any longer. Sorry Mom! Being the first non-essential store I had visited since lockdown, I was curious to see how this will all work in terms of safety, social distancing and so on.
The mask policy
The mask police (masked IKEA workers) were stationed at the entrance, no doubt to check if you yourself have covered up your meatball-hole properly. I was pleased to see that all shoppers were following this very wise regulation.
There are contactless hand-sanitizing appliances installed at strategic locations throughout the store. Contactless here means that you have to push a pedal with your foot to get the pungent antibacterial fluid flowing, which will – fair warning – spray you right on the crotch if you’re naive enough to place your hand underneath the dispenser. It’s perhaps safer to bring your own sanitizer.
The info touchpads are currently sealed off, lest too many dirty mitts follow one after another, but you can still touch pretty much anything else in the showroom. Contradictory? Yes. Do I have a better suggestion? No.
Self-service checkout counters are still available, I’m guessing to protect the cashiers.
In some IKEA branches, the restaurants are open already. The self-serving cake shelves are still a thing, but the get-your-own refill drinking station is not available. Again, not much logic, but a line must be drawn somewhere, and apparently IKEA did so at serving yourself sugary drinks.
All in all, not much has changed. You still wander around dreaming of decorating your home the way the Swedes will have you believe is trendy, spend more than you intended to, possibly buy something you didn’t really need and that almond cake is still to die for. I personally wash up after a normal Ikea visit anyway but I certainly do now.
By Andi Thomas