Jewellery retailers could open as early as June 1, the prime minister suggested in last night’s (May 10) address to the nation.
Boris Johnson said a phased reopening of shops would form part of the second step of the government’s road map to re-open the country, but he stressed that this would only happen if all coronavirus pandemic reduction conditions were met, subject to further scientific advice.
As a reminder, these conditions are:
- Sufficient critical care capacity available across the UK
- Sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths
- Rate of infection decreasing
- Testing and PPE able to meet demand
- Adjustments to measures will not risk a second peak that overwhelms the NHS
In last night’s speech Boris Johnson said that in the first phase of a relaxation of coronavirus lockdown, to being on Wednesday, May 13, people will be able to sit in the park, start taking unlimited amounts of exercise, and meet one person from another household while maintaining social distancing.
He said that the government will be monitoring infection rates following these new measures and that the country might be able to go further and start to reopen non-essential retail shops in the second phase.
In what many have described as a mixed and rather confusing message, the prime minister said: “In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
“Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.”
That guidance is expected to become available later today and Johnson is expected to make the roadmap clearer at the 5pm daily press conference.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “We share the view of the Prime Minister that safety is what counts when determining when shops can reopen. Already retailers around the country are working on plans for reopening safely and with all necessary social distancing measures in place. It is vital that the reopening of stores is based on who can do so safely, as opposed to trying to draw lines in terms of different sizes or types of shop.
“Further clarity is needed in coming days and we look forward to more details from the Government. We need a plan for shopping as well as shops – this means a plan that allows safe navigation both to and through our retail centres – and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the Government to support this process.”
The prime minister’s speech made no mention of the furlough scheme, and how and when this might end.