Fashion and retail stores could be able to re-open from June under new plans laid out by the Government, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the nation last night.
While those stores, currently classed as "non-essential" may be able to open, once they meet new COVID-19 safety and security guidelines, with the process to take place in phases. Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen.
In documents published following the Prime Minister's speech, the Government said: “All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to re-open at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher.”
It added: “Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.
“Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.”
Currently, only essential stores, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and cycle stores, have been allowed to remain open during the coronavirus lockdown. Non-essential retailers have been permitted to remain operational online.
The plans state that those non-essential stores that are set to be reopened will be done so in phases, with politicians set to issue further guidance on which businesses will be included in each phase and time-frame.
Other sectors will remain closed during June, although it added that cultural and sporting events will be able to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding “large-scale social contact”.
The Government said it has the ambition to open some of the remaining businesses from 4 July at the earliest.
It said it hopes hairdressers, pubs, hotels, restaurants and cinemas will be among the next set of firms able to reopen as part of this expansion.
These firms will also need to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines, although it added that some venues, which are crowded, may still not be allowed to reopen, or only partly reopen, from July.
The Government said it will also phase and trial the reopening of high-risk businesses from July.
Ministers added they will closely monitor how high-risk sectors have been reopened elsewhere in the world and establish taskforces for these industries.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), called for more details about the timings of reopenings. While other countries have opted to open smaller retailers first, she argued this may not necessarily be the right approach.
She said: “Retailers continue to await further detail from Government on the timeline for reopening shops. Safety must be the primary concern in deciding what opens when, rather than size or type of shop.
“The BRC have worked with Usdaw to draw up social distancing guidance for shops that are preparing to reopen, learning from the experiences of thousands of supermarkets and other essential retailers who have been doing so successfully since lockdown.”