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 said.
All non-essential retailers 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 can follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines, giving businesses three weeks to prepare.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms will also be able to reopen from 1 June, as long as the stores meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are “confident they are managing the risks”.
The government said that the “vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers”, but added that tough powers are in place to enforce action if they don’t, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “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.
“The guidance we have set out today provides a vital framework to get shops open in a way that is safe for everyone.”
He added: “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.”
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director general, said: “As our high streets slowly reawaken, this new guidance is important for businesses on the ground.
“Our shops are doing all they can to keep the public and their staff safe, and we’ve seen many retailers leading from the front with innovative solutions to do just that. As more and more businesses turn their attention to reopening, this guidance will help them plan to do so safely and securely.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “We welcome the announcement of the Government’s roadmap for reopening a broader range of shops next month, which provides much needed clarity on the route ahead.
“Safety is the fundamental concern for all retailers and they have been working hard to implement the necessary measures to operate safely over the past weeks.”
She added: “Now that we know which shops can open and when, retailers can begin communicating their plans with their workforces and customers. The industry stands ready to play its part in getting the economy moving again.”