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Prime Minister sets out timeline for retail to reopen

Coronavirus: Outdoor markets can reopen from 1 June followed by non-essential retail later in month

Mark Moran
26 May 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

 

High street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect both shoppers and workers.

As with garden centres, which are already able to open, the Government believes the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

The Government’s five tests:

  1. Protect the NHS’s ability to cope. We must be confident that we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK
  2. See a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from COVID-19 so we are confident that we have moved beyond the peak
  3. Reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
  4. Be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand
  5. Be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.

Businesses will only be able to open in June once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

The Government will be publishing updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, trade unions, Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Local authorities will continue to carry out spot checks and follow up on concerns by members of the public.

The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the food retailers and pharmacies, which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store.

Measures that shops should consider include placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures, 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, and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.

As per the Government’s roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country. Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK. The guidance we have set out provides a vital framework to get shops open in a way that is safe for everyone. It explains how retail workers who are not currently working can go back to work as safely as possible and feel confident in their workplace. And it reassures customers that shops are properly assessing the risks and putting in place measures to protect them.”

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director General, said: “As our high streets slowly reawaken, this new guidance is important for businesses on the ground. Our shops are doing all they can to keep the public and their staff safe, and we’ve seen many retailers leading from the front with innovative solutions to do just that.”

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), said: “The guidance being given to retail outlets provides a broad framework for the basic measures and still allows the retailer to be flexible according to the size, layout and location of the shop.”

The Prime Minister’s statement can be read by clicking here

 
 
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