Retail to reopen in June – but hospitality, hairdressers & beauty salons must wait

Photo shows: Montpellier, Cheltenham
Cheltenham, Montpellier retail

High street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure, but hairdressers, barbers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector will have to wait longer, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher.

Very long hairIn a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

The government’s decision could come in the nick of time for some, but too later for others.

REI TheParade LeamingtonSpaA survey published by Leamington Spa Bid in April revealed the painful extent of Coronavirus on the town, with three quarters saying that under lockdown conditions at the time, they would last no longer than three months without further support, and 12 per cent said they could last less than a month. Some 85% of BID members saw a fall in revenue of 80% -100%, and 95% indicated a fall in revenue  greater than 50%. Critically, taking account of existing support and grants, 84% are experiencing cashflow problems.

At the time 88% were temporarily closed and 84% had furloughed staff. Of this, 56% have furloughed 76-100% of staff. Some 66% opted to defer VAT, though there has been limited uptake of other forms of government assistance, with many reporting problems reaching banks and accessing loans

Shops like supermarkets and pharmacies have been trading 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 government 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.

Cheltenham BID has launched a campaign to try to help ensure that businesses in the town are fully prepared.

The Back to Business with Cheltenham BID campaign will see the BID sharing four focused guides that it is hoped will help businesses of all kinds both prepare for opening and ensure they are ready when the time comes to actually throw open their doors.

They are: First Steps to Getting Your Business Ready; Health and Safety Essentials; Top Marketing Tips and Benefits and Savings.

It also includes a “Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020” poster, which it hopes businesses will display to reassure both customers and staff.

BID Director Kevan Blackadder said: “This is a timely campaign following last night’s announcement by the Prime Minister that all retailers should be able to open on June 15.

“It is not just a retail campaign, however, and we’re sure our hospitality, leisure and professional sector businesses will also be keen to follow the advice.”

Cheltenham BID has been helping essential businesses that have been open throughout the pandemic by providing stickers highlighting the two-metre social distancing measures. The BID will continue to supply the stickers to other businesses as they open in coming weeks.

Worcester BIDWorcester BID is working closely with Worcester City Council to update on grants as well as working along side British BIDs, ATCM and the Institute of Place Management to lobby on your behalf with the Government to support our city’s recovery.

Newbury BID has published a helpful list of where to go for help. West Berkshire Council have partnered with Volunteer Centre West Berkshire and Greenham Trust to launch a Community Support Hub and Berkshire Growth Hub will be the lead on business enquiries.

NewburyBusiness Secretary Alok Sharma said: “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.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association, 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.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “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.”