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Shops to reopen in June

Written by: Emma Lunn
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a timeline for retail to 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.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, on the proviso that they are able to meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

Johnson said that as with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces.

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.

The retail re-opening will only go ahead if the Government’s five tests are met and the shops can follow the Covid-19 secure guidelines.

A statement from the Government said: “Reopening non-essential retail 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.

“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. They must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure in line with the current health and safety legislation.”

The Government has published updated Covid-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Local authorities will carry out spot checks on retailers and follow up on concerns by members of the public if any rules are broken.

Measures shops should 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
  • Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals

Businesses that don’t protect staff and customers could be fined or face 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.

Business secretary Alok Sharma says: “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. 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.”

The retails news comes as Aldi launches a traffic light system at entrances to control the number of customers in stores.

Under the system, the doors will open when the traffic light signals green meaning shoppers can enter the store. If the light is red, the doors will be closed and shoppers have to wait outside the store until a shopper leaves.

When the signal switches colour will depend on how many customers can be in each store at any one time while maintaining social distancing, which depends on the size of the shop.

The system has been trialled in 10 stores and its nationwide roll-out will start this week.

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