After weeks of following the “stay at home” measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson eased some of the relaxations. On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that thousands of shops would be allowed to open from next month.
While outdoor markets and car showrooms have been allowed to start trading from June 1, shops providing non-essential services would be allowed to open from June 15 as long as they keep customers’ safety prime.
“Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready,” Mr. Johnson said. “There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”
The government said shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, would be expected to be able to reopen from June 15, giving them three weeks to prepare.
In order for shops to open, they would need to fill a risk assessment form and be ready for “spot checks”.
The safety measures to be followed by the shops include displaying posters at the shop windows explaining the safety rules; storing return items for 72 hours before putting them back on the shop floor; items like beds and sofas that are touched by people to be covered with protective equipment; cleaning surfaces ad objects like trolleys, coffee machines, self-checkouts frequently among others.
PM Boris Johnson announced the relaxations in lockdown measures at the 10 Downing Street daily briefing amidst a row over his special advisor violating lockdown norms.
Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings left his London home to travel 260 miles to Durham with his wife and four-year-old son.
Cummings defended his decision, saying it was “reasonable and legal”. He also said that the decision was made to secure child care for his four-year-old in case both he and his wife fell sick.
In a press conference called to clarify matters, Dominic Cummings said the situation his family was in was “complicated, tricky,” and said, “I don’t regret what I did.”
PM Boris Johnson until now has backed Cummings’ decision to travel saying, “Looking at the very severe childcare difficulties that presented themselves to Dominic Cummings and his family, I think that what they did was totally understandable – there’s actually guidance… about what you need to do about the pressures that families face when they have child care needs. He found those needs where they could best be served, best be delivered and yes, that did involve travel.”
He further added, “In every respect, he has acted responsibly, legally and with integrity.”
Despite being questioned continuously about his decision to support Cummings, PM Johnson tried to stir the conversation to the easing of lockdown measures and said, “I want people to be confident that they can shop safely, provided they follow the social distancing rules.”
Clothing and footwear sector have been worst hit in retail by the pandemic, “facing a £14 billion decline,” it’s been reported. The UK’s clothing and footwear market is set to become the worst-hit sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Welcoming the opening of shops, Business Secretary Alok Sharma pointed it will help, “rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”
The retail industry overall welcomed the decision while some felt it could have come earlier.
These lockdown relaxations have been announced at a time when the deaths in the UK climbed to 36,914.