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Coronavirus: UK government unveils roadmap for lifting lockdown for businesses

Edmund Heaphy
·Finance and news reporter
·2-min read
Shoppers wearing protective face masks at a fruit and vegetable market stall in East Ham, east London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Shoppers wearing protective face masks at a fruit and vegetable market stall in London. (Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Some non-essential retail stores in the UK will begin opening in phases from 1 June under new guidelines published by the government on Monday.

The government said it would “shortly” issue further guidance on which businesses would be covered in each phase, noting that all retailers would have to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines due to be released on Wednesday (13 May).

Noting that this will result in “more movement” outside households, the plan advises people to wear face-coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing may not always be possible, and when they come into contact with others that they do not usually meet.

READ MORE: British Airways owner warns ‘nothing positive’ for airlines in Johnson speech

All other sectors that are currently closed would have to remain closed during Step Two of the government’s coronavirus recovering strategy, since “the risk of transmission in these environments is higher,” the plan notes.

Hospitality and personal care businesses, such as pubs, restaurants, and hairdressers, will not be able to open until 4 July at the earliest, during Step Three of the plan first announced by prime minister Boris Johnson on Sunday (10 May).

“The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close,” the guidelines state, pointing to public places, such as places of worship, and leisure facilities, such as cinemas.

READ MORE: Minister says return to work only applies from Wednesday

“Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part,” the guidelines state.

The plan notes that many businesses in the UK have developed “highly innovative” ways of doing business, such as moving online or adapting to a delivery model.

Noting that many of the changes, such as home working, have “significant” benefits, the government said that it will “need to continue to ask all employers and operators of communal spaces to be innovative in developing novel approaches.”

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