All retail outlets in England will be allowed to reopen from 15 June, as the country continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown, business secretary Alok Sharma said on Tuesday.
“We continue to meet the five tests set out in the prime minister’s roadmap, and the R-rate continues to stay below one,” Sharma said, speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press briefing.
“So I can confirm today that retail outlets which have been required to be closed will be able to open their doors again from Monday 15 June, so long as they comply with the COVID Secure guidelines we published on 25 May.”
However, pubs, bars, restaurants, and hairdressers will not be able to reopen until 4 July “at the earliest,” Sharma said.
Sharma nonetheless called Tuesday’s move “the latest step” in the “careful” restarting of the UK’s economy, noting that it would enable high streets around the country “to spring back to life.”
“Of course, many shops have remained open throughout the pandemic, ensuring that we were able to buy the essentials we need,” Sharma said, thanking workers at essential retailers for their service.
“Many of these businesses rapidly adapted to introduce social distancing early on,” he said, pointing to special opening hours for vulnerable people, perspex screens and checkouts, and other measures.
“In the new normal, we have all got used to shopping with social distancing,” Sharma said, stating that now was the time to apply these measures more widely across the retail sector.
Shops should reopen once they are able to follow the government guidelines, Sharma said.
“Of course, there are businesses which still remain closed. As soon as we can we will publish further safer working guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars, as well as hairdressers, barbers, nail bars and related services,” he said.
Noting that there was a lot of “speculation” about when such businesses could reopen, Sharma said the government was sticking to its roadmap, which suggested that they would not reopen before 4 July.
Sharma said that, while the government’s two-metre social-distancing guideline was “under review,” it still remained in place.
The UK government on Tuesday reported 1,387 new cases of coronavirus, taking the country’s total confirmed cases to over 289,000.
More than 40,800 people have now died after being infected with the virus, the government said.