All non essential shops will be able to reopen once the country-wide lockdown has been lifted in early December, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed in part of a post-lockdown plan announcement made this afternoon.
The news comes as welcome relief to a retail scene that had previously been offered no assurances that doors will reopen in time to hit the key trading period in the retail calendar as consumers begin to carry out their Christmas shopping.
The fear had been that the country’s independent retail scene would miss out on the sales of what is known as the Golden Quarter, to online shopping and grocers deemed ‘essential retail.’ The fear surrounding the uncertainty prompted the British Toy and Hobby Retail Association to pen an open letter last week to the PM, imploring him to give allowances to toy retailers.
A self-isolating Johnson, has now revealed details of a tougher three-tier system of localised restrictions to the House of Commons, confirming that all non-essential shops will be able to reopen at the lifting of the country-wide lockdown on December 2nd.
Under the plans, more areas are expected to be placed into high-risk or very high-risk tiers, with measures within those tiers also made more stringent. Ministers will announce on Thursday which restrictions each area will be under.
Non-essential shops will be allowed to open in all areas, giving a boost to struggling retailers reliant on Christmas sales for their survival. Pubs and restaurants will remain under tighter restrictions however.
It is understood pubs will need to keep last orders at 10pm but can remain open for an hour after that.
The allocation of tiers will be dependent on a number of factors, including each area’s case numbers, reproduction rate – or R number – and the current and projected pressure on the local NHS. Tier allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, and the regional approach will last until March.
“For the first time since this wretched virus took hold we can see a route out of the pandemic,” Mr Johnson told MPs via video link.
He added, however, that “we are not there yet” and warned against “squandering our hard-won gains”.