UK PM sets out timeline for retail to reopen in June

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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 announced. Non-essential retail including shops selling clothes will be expected to be able to reopen from June 15 if they meet five tests.

Outdoor markets, where the risk of transmission of the virus is lower, as with garden centres, due to outdoor and more open spaces, will be able to reopen from June1, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, Prime Minister Johnson said.

All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, plus tailors, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from June 15 if the Government's five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare, an official statement said.

"Shops like supermarkets and pharmacies have been trading responsibly throughout the pandemic. Building on this and in line with the Government's roadmap, 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," the statement said.

"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," it added.

"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 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," said business secretary Alok Sharma.

"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," Confederation of British Industry (CBI) deputy director general Josh Hardie said.

British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "BIRA is pleased with the guidance being given to retail outlets. It provides a broad framework for the basic measures and still allows the retailer to be flexible according to the size, layout and location of the shop. This guidance will ensure that independent retailers provide safe environments for employees and customers."

"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. 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," said British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson.