An automated entrance system is being rolled out across Tesco Ireland outlets to manage and limit the flow of customers into its stores.
Tesco said the system has been developed by the Co Kildare unit of retail tech and logistics firm Wanzl.
It says what it calls a “3D body imaging system” uses a camera to sense and count each arriving customer.
But a Tesco spokesperson said the camera does not record, does not capture the person’s image and generates no person-specific data.
“The camera is involved only on a sensory basis to count those entering. It doesn’t recognise or record individuals,” the spokesperson said.
The planned national rollout follows a trial at its Greystones branch, where store manager David Murphy said the system had delivered “great peace of mind for managing the numbers in store at any given time”.
Mr Murphy said arriving customers could see the system display the number of people already in the store, along with a green light permitting entry - or a red light requiring them to wait for another customer to leave. This display, he said, helps “customers to know they’re entering a safe environment”.
“With social distancing and the management of the flow of people likely to be with us for the near future, this technology is very important,” he said.
The Greystones outlet has a Covid-19 capacity of 90 customers. Its entrance monitor displats how many shoppers already are in the store, and advises customers to “wait outside” if the store already has reached its 90 limit.
The technology means that Tesco outlets can reduce the number of security or other staff physically supervising the flow of customers at store entrances.
The Tesco spokesperson confirmed that staff would continue to physically oversee access whenever the automated system displays full capacity inside the store and outdoor queues form. Staff also will remain on duty at entrances during hours specifically earmarked for shoppers who are elderly or carers.
Tesco said the system is live at its Greystones store and will be added first at its 60 larger-format Superstores and Extras outlets, with Celbridge, Maynooth and Navan at or near the head of that queue.
The spokesperson said the system for now was being introduced only in Ireland, not yet in Britain, where the grocer has more than 3,500 stores.