Non-essential retail so far not included in mandatory shut-downs

COVID-19 Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this evening announced the compulsory closure of pubs, restaurants and gyms as the Government steps up its social distancing measures.  Non-essential retail has yet to be forced to close, though many fashion retailers have already shut up shop.

Following the Prime Minister’s daily press conference the Government listed the following organisations that must close at the earliest opportunity at least for the next 14 days when the situation will be reviewed.

  • Food & drink venues
  • Pubs, bars and clubs
  • Cinemas, theatres, concert and bingo halls
  • Spas, indoor leisure and gyms
  • Casinos & betting shops
  • Museums & galleries

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced further Government aid to help pay the wages of those workers in businesses which have been forced to close, as well as further measures to help businesses such as the suspension of VAT payments and an extended interest-free term of 12 months (instead of the previously announced six) on Government loans.

A closure of non-essential retail is widely expected to be the next stage in the ramp-up of social distancing and hundreds of stores have already taken the initiative to close already.

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group has today announced that its estate of stores will close, while all of London’s landmark department stores, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Harrods, Fenwick and Selfridges, are all on shut-down.

Monsoon Accessorize is also believed to be planning a nationwide shut-down, while Marks & Spencer has not ruled out the temporary closure of some stores.

Some retailers have suggested the stores will re-open at the earliest on 28 March but many have simply said the move is “until further notice”.