PM sets out timeline for retail to gradually reopen in June
Thousands of 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 confirmed.
The government has announced that in line with its roadmap, reopening non-essential retail in June is the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods, restarting the UK’s economy and ensuring vital public services like the NHS continue to be funded.
According to PM Johnson, 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 shoppers and workers.
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.
Businesses will, however, only be able to open 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 also have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.
“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,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.
The government noted it is taking action to help businesses reopen and protect their staff and customers by publishing updated COVID-19 secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches and stores; and by working with local authorities to continue to carry out spot checks and follow up on concerns by members of the public.
Measures that shops are being told to 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.
“The guidance we have set out today 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,” Mr Sharma said.
The government confirmed that “tough powers” are in place to enforce action if businesses don’t comply, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.
As per the 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.