Which shops will be allowed to open in lockdown?

A shopper
A shopper

From Thursday 5 November, England will go into lockdown for a second time as the country battles a surge in coronavirus cases.

Until 2 December there will be strict curbs on socialising and travel, but also on which shops and businesses can remain open.

Which retailers are staying open?

Any retailer selling “essential” goods and services may stay open to the public as long as they follow coronavirus guidelines and make their premises covid-secure.

Those on the list include:

  • Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences

  • Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses

  • Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses

  • Medical services such as dentists, opticians and pharmacies

  • Vets and pet shops

  • Agricultural supplies shops

Other High Street businesses staying open include storage facilities, funeral directors, launderettes, dry cleaners and car parks.

Public toilets and motorway service stations are also on the list.

Hairdressers will have to shut
Hairdressers will have to shut

Which shops will shut?

All “non-essential” retail must close from Thursday but can still offer click-and-collect services – where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises – as well as online delivery.

Those due to shut include:

  • Clothing shops

  • Homeware and furniture stores

  • Electronic goods and mobile phone shops

  • Vehicle showrooms (other than for rental)

  • Betting shops

  • Tailors

  • Tobacco and vape shops

  • Market stalls selling non-essential goods

What about hospitality, beauty and leisure?

High Street hospitality businesses such as cafes, restaurants and pubs must shut unless they are providing food and drink for takeaway before 10pm, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery.

Customers will only be able to order alcohol over the phone or online, and won’t be able to eat and drink outside the premises unless they are at an airport, for example.

Hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons must also close – along with tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, and body and skin piercing services. It is prohibited to provide these services in other peoples’ homes.

In addition, hotels, hostels and guest houses will have to shut except under specific circumstances.

Leisure and entertainment venues must also close, from gyms and swimming pools to theatres, cinemas and museums.

A garden centre worker
Garden centres will be allowed to open this time

What will be different this time?

Unlike in March, when the first lockdown began, garden centres will be allowed to stay open from day one.

Homeware and furniture shops will also be shutting after being allowed to reopen part way through the last lockdown, in May.

While hotels will close to tourists, people will be able to use them if it is essential to their work – not just if the accommodation is their main residence or they are unable to return home.

In general, businesses are better prepared for this lockdown, in terms of having protective measures in place and access to government support schemes from day one. That should mean fewer retailers choose to shut when there’s no legal obligation to.

WH Smith for instance will keep most of its High Street stores open, when last time it only opened shops in hospitals or which contained Post Offices.

A clothes rail
Will supermarkets be able to sell clothes?

Will supermarkets be able to sell non-essential goods?

There was confusion during the first lockdown over whether essential retailers could sell non-essential goods like clothes, toys and homewares.

It is unclear whether the government will ask supermarkets in England to cordon off clothing aisles this time around, as Wales’ has done for its current national lockdown.

The government is due to release more guidance for England soon.

What are the rules on shops in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

There are different coronavirus restrictions for the devolved nations.

Scotland is operating a five-tier system, in which non-essential shops must close in the highest risk areas – although nowhere is at this level yet.

Wales is currently under a 17-day “fire break” lockdown which ends on 9 November. Until then all non-essential shops have been made to close.

In Northern Ireland all non-essential shops remain open.

Is non-essential retail classified differently in Wales and Scotland?

On the whole no, but there are differences.

In Wales garden centres, homeware stores and markets have had to shut in its lockdown, along with shopping centres and arcades.

In Scotland, any outdoor retail can remain open in high risk areas, including outdoor markets and car lots.

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