Covid-19: Government confirms reopening of non-essential stores next week

The government has confirmed non-essential retailers can open stores from Monday 15 June.

Retailers up and down the country have been putting plans in place to reopen stores after the government provided the date of 15 June at the end of last month following 11 weeks of forced closure due to Covid-19. At this point, retail businesses were given guidelines from the government to advise them on how to keep the public safe.

It was first thought retail would reopen on 1 June, but the date was pushed back until the scientific data confirmed coronavirus cases were declining, but this was pushed back by two weeks.

Business secretary Alok Sharma confirmed this evening that the R-rate is continuing to decline so retailers in England can open their doors from Monday, as long as they adhere to the government’s safer working guidelines. He said this easing of lockdown restrictions would “enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life”.

Retailers must complete a Covid-19 risk assessment in order to reopen which will allow them to place a notice in their windows to inform the public they have taken the correct safety measures to reopen their doors. Those who open without carrying out the risk assessment could face enforcement notices.

Sharma said closing non-essential shops on March 23 in-line with lockdown measures was the “right decision” despite the hardship felt by businesses around the UK.

Further guidelines for restaurants, pubs, bars and hairdressers will be provided in the coming weeks, with hopes those businesses will be able to reopen from 4 July.

The lockdown measures have had a devastating impact on non-essential retailers, especially in areas such as fashion. Increases in online sales during this period have generally failed to offset store closures. While most non-essential retailers turned to ploughing efforts into supporting their eCommerce operations, Primark’s continued avoidance of this channel over the years meant the retailer had zero income during the last couple of months. Primark said it witnessed a £650 million loss for every month stores were shuttered.

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