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Boris Johnson sees "brighter future" for retail if the R rate falls
02 November 2020

Boris Johnson has sought to raise hopes of non-essential retail being able to open throughout much of December. But the Prime Minister warned this would depend on the second lockdown proving a “success” in reducing the COVID-19 infection rate.

New lockdown rules for England will come into force from Thursday until, at least, 2 December, and with fashion retailers among other non-essential retailers forced to close their physical stores once again.

The restrictions are expected to offer a further boost to online retailers, such as Amazon which today launched its Christmas campaign, and deal another blow to high streets. Springboard has predicted that footfall across retail destinations will be down -62% over the six weeks from 22 November – 26 December and could be worse if the lockdown is extended.

Speaking in the Commons, Johnson told MPs: “I do think there is the prospect of a much brighter future ahead if we can make a success of these national measures, open up again in December, give people the chance of some shopping, some economic activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas and then beyond.”

He earlier said the intention over the next four weeks is to halve the number of infections.

Johnson said: “The objective is to get the disease to stop doubling, the infection rate to stop doubling and start halving.

“To do that you need to get the R down below one. It’s currently estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3 – I think ONS (Office for National Statistics) said recently it was 1.6 – but it has been coming down.

“Our intention is to use this period to get it below 1 and get that infection rate halving, not doubling.”

Should the lockdown be successful the intention is for regions across England to be exited into the previous three-tier system of restrictions depending on the prevalence of the virus in their local area.

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