Boris Johnson has announced that ‘non-essential’ shops will be able to open on 15th June 2020, as long as the UK coronavirus statistics remain acceptable and the retailers are ‘COVID-safe’.
So what does this mean to the retail sector and local shops and how will they manage to start trading again and manage their proposition to remain safe and relevant for customers.
During lockdown, supermarkets and other food shops have remained open, following guidelines about how to operate safely. The Government is applying what they learned from food stores to allow other shops to reopen.
On 25 May, Prime Minister Johnson announced that if progress against ‘the five tests’ for easing lockdown restriction is acceptable and retailers are ‘COVID-safe’, these are the key dates for reopening that stores and shoppers need to know:
From 1 June Outdoor markets and car showrooms
From 15 June All other non-essential retail stores, from department stores to small, independent shops.
There’s no reopening date yet for hairdressers, nail bars and beauty, salons, or hospitality businesses but there are rumours this will happen in July.
Johnson claimed that the guidance the Government has published means, “there can be no doubt about what steps [retailers] should take” and by making the announcement now, shop owners have time to meet the required standards.
The published guidance to help retailers be ‘COVID-safe’ is in addition to your usual health and safety obligations and other regulations. The first thing businesses must do is a risk assessment, which the guidance states must be done “in consultation with unions or workers”.
Read the guidelines in full: Gov.uk | Working safely during coronavirus – Shops and branches The guidance includes a link to the HSE’s advice on carrying out a risk assessment.
The guidance for businesses in England includes a list of measures retails can consider to stay COVID-safe, in particular to increase awareness, to maintain hygiene and to minimise contact between people while shopping. These measures include:
putting a poster in your window to show you’re aware of the guidance and committed to keeping your staff and customers safe The poster is available on the gov.uk website: Gov.uk | Poster – Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020
providing more bicycle parking to help customers avoid using public transport
frequently cleaning items and surfaces that are touched regularly, for example baskets, self-checkouts, coffee machines
adjusting your store to avoid congestion, such as a one-way flow
storing items customers return for 72 hours before you put them back out for sale
Local authorities will carry out spot-checks on businesses and follow up on concerns reported by the public. And for stores not complying, there are fines and jail sentences of up to two years.