After 10 weeks of lockdown, thousands of high street shops, department stores and markets across England can start reopening from next month.
At a daily news briefing in Downing Street – overshadowed by Dominic Cummings’ response to claims he broke lockdown rules – the prime minister outlined which businesses can begin trading again from Monday.
Boris Johnson said Step 2 of the plan to “unlock the lockdown”, in place since 23 March, would see the following changes.
From 1 June:
- Outdoor markets and spacious car showrooms can open, as the government says that, as with garden centres, the risk of catching COVID-19 is lower outside where it is generally easier to apply social distancing
From 15 June:
- All other non-essential retailers, including shops selling clothes and indoor markets, can follow suit.
The government says it has issued guidance for people who “work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments”.
The guidance also applies to those currently open, such as banks, post offices and chemists.
On its website, it has listed shops and branches as follows:
- food retailers
- hardware/homeware stores
- fashion shops
- charity shops
- betting shops and arcades
- tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers
- car dealerships
- auction houses
- antique stores
- retail art galleries
- photography studios
- gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites
- mobile phone stores
- indoor and outdoor markets
- craft fairs
- similar types of retail
Shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies have remained open throughout the pandemic, and have introduced new safety measures, such as hand sanitisers for customer and staff use, floor markings and protective screens at checkouts.
What will remain closed:
- Hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, as the government says “the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person-to-person contact is required”.
But Mr Johnson says the reopening of stores is subject to them being “COVID-19 secure” and that they must show “customers will be kept safe”.
Employers will face “spot checks” to ensure they are implementing social distancing, and have been told they need to complete a risk assessment after consultation with trade unions and workers.
Shops have been told to consider a number of measures to reassure customers and staff, including:
- Placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance
- Storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor
- Placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas
- Frequently cleaning objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals
The PM has also said any changes will be contingent upon progress against five tests set by the government for relaxing restrictions.
The government has previously outlined those tests as follows:
- To make sure the NHS can cope by providing sufficient critical care across the UK
- To see a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates with confidence the UK is beyond the peak
- Reliable data to show the infection rate is falling to manageable levels
- There is enough testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet future demand
- Any changes in restrictions would not lead to a second peak
Mr Johnson said the government would set out formal assessment of the five tests later this week.
Also from 1 June, some primary schools in England are due to reopen, with reception, Year 1 and Year 6 welcoming younger pupils back to class.
Secondary school students with exams next year, will return from 15 June.