Non-essential shops reopen today – these are the new Covid rules you need to know

Which shops are now open that have been closed?

All non-essential shops, including department stores, book shops, technology stores and more high street stalwarts, were allowed to reopen on Apr 12. 

The full list of non-essential shops includes: clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock and agricultural equipment), and market stalls selling non-essential goods.

What will change when the shops reopen?

According to the government roadmap, social distancing could be scrapped by the summer, although this greatly depends on whether the data shows there’s enough reductions in coronavirus cases to avoid a spike in hospitalisations.  

Face masks could still be required for shops until much further into the summer – or even beyond, with hairdressers and beauty salons being told to avoid long and complex treatments, when they also reopened on Apr 12,  in order to reduce the length of time customers spend in the chair.

Retailers are allowed to stay open until 10pm and Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, said councils would be encouraged to allow high street stores to extend their hours under the new limits between Monday and Saturday. 

June 21 marks the fourth step in the roadmap and the earliest point at which the country could return fully to normal living.

The roadmap document said: “Social distancing is difficult and damaging for businesses and, as a result, it is important to return to as near to normal as quickly as possible. 

“Ahead of Step Four, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the Government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission.”

We can expect a much altered high street when non-essential stores reopen, as many familiar brands have gone into administration including Debenhams, Cath Kidston and the UK arm of Victoria’s Secret. Others are cutting their retail footprints, including Monsoon and John Lewis. 

Some independent store owners are predicting a retail revival however, and have spent the latest lockdown investing in revamped premises and larger stores. Roo Cross is one of them: “We’re building a plant shop onsite so we’ll have women’s and men’s fashion, lifestyle, plants and coffee all on one site,” she says.