NON-ESSENTIAL shops can open their doors again on April 12 as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans for businesses re-opening and the country returning to normal.
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Shoppers can visit more stores when they reopen in AprilCredit: Alamy
Mr Johnsons said he hoped the roadmap was a “one way road to freedom” but the threat from covid remained “substantial”.
He told MPs: “Today the end really is in sight. A wretched year will soon give way to spring and summer that will be very different to today.”
Restrictions will be lifted first for schools, which can reopen from March 8 bringing relief for families homeschooling.
Six people or two households will be allowed to meet with each other outside from March 29.
Having a drink outside will follow as part of the gradual lifting of restrictions, along with non-essential retail re-opening on April 12.
It comes as…
Shops described as non-essential by the government under lockdown rules include:
- Clothing shops
- Homeware shops
- Toy shops
- Vehicle showrooms (other than for rental)
- Betting shops
- Tobacco and vape shops
- Electronic goods shops
- Mobile phone shops
- Auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment)
- Market stalls selling non-essential goods
The reopening of non-essential retail comes a week after the Easter weekend – a crucial trading period for shops.
Retail industry groups expressed disappointment that this critical footfall in stores will be missed.
Andrew Goodacre, the boss of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), said: “Whilst it is good for us to have a date, we are very disappointed that non-essential shops will miss the Easter period, especially as they also missed out on most of the busy festive period.
“We therefore want the Chancellor to recognise this in the Budget next week and make clear statements about the support that will be available for the next 12 months.
The British Retail Consortium also welcomed the plan but warned that some shops will never reopen.
BRC boss Helen Dickinson said: “The cost of lost sales to non-food stores during lockdown is now over £22bn and counting.
“Every day that a shop remains closed increases the chances that it will never open again – costing jobs and damaging local communities.”
It also said the government should continue to offer support to avoid more job losses and permanent store closures.
Lockdown has helped reduce case rates
“To this end, the Government must act on three vital issues – rents, rates and grants.
“The Chancellor must announce a targeted business rates relief from April and extend the moratorium on debt enforcement, as well as removing state aid caps on Covid business grants.
“This would relieve struggling businesses of bills they cannot currently pay and allow them to trade their way to recovery.”
The PMs roadmap also that pubs will open from April – there will be table service outdoors and you’ll be able to get takeaway pints.
You won’t have to buy food like you did under previous rules when pubs reopened and there will also be no curfews.
Mr Johnson will speak to the nation in a press conference at 7pm tonight.
Only essential shops have been allowed to open since January in the latest lockdown, including supermarkets and pharmacies.
Other retailers considered non-essential have been closed since the start of the year – but they have been allowed to offer pick up of click and collect orders made online.
Pubs and restaurants are set to open fully for drinking and eating indoors later on May 17.
Gyms will fully re-open from this date too while big events, including those at sports stadiums, allowed to go ahead.
But the roadmap will depend on coronavirus infection rates and deaths.
These are falling while the number of people being vaccinated is rising each day.
Millions of people have already been vaccinated
There are four tests the government says need to be passed before restrictions are eased:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern
It comes as Boris Johnson vowed to offer every adult in Britain a jab against Covid-19 by the end of July.
More than 17 million have been vaccinated — including two-thirds of the 65 to 69 age group who only received their invitation letters last week — thanks to hard-working NHS staff.
Mr Johnson now plans to speed up jabs for over-50s, with a completion target of April 15.
It means 98 per cent of those most likely to die, or be hospitalised, will be protected by then.
He will also stand by his pledge to offer a second dose within 12 weeks of the first.