Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 recovery ‘roadmap’ has been revealed, with jewellers and all other non-essential retailers allowed to reopen from 12 April, as long as cases continue to drop.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, welcomed the news, and the PM’s call ‘not to pull the rug out’ from under businesses, however warned that the Government must act on three vital issues – rents, rates and grants to ensure business survival in the long term.
The opening of all retail is part of the plan’s step two, which also includes domestic overnight stays, and the reopening of gyms and many outdoor facilities.
Step one is in two parts: first, on March 8, it allows schools and colleges to open for all students; and secondly, on 29 March, the rule of six or two households will be introduced for outdoor socialising, along with the return of outdoor sports.
Step three, to be introduced “no earlier than 17 May” will see the rule of six extended to indoor socialising, with 30 people allowed to meet outside.
There will also be the return of indoor entertainment like cinemas, as well as indoor seating at pubs and restaurants, hotels, indoor organised sport and even, subject to review, international travel. Certain larger events will also resume, with limited attendance based on whether they are indoor or outdoor.
Finally, step four, no earlier than 21 June, will see the removal of all Covid-19 restrictions, with the return of nightclubs and “no legal limit on social contact”, the Government’s roadmap plan revealed.
These “irreversible” stages will be confirmed or pushed back one week before each of the above dates.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to give a live address in which he will confirm these details tonight at 7pm.
Dickinson said of the roadmap: “We welcome the additional clarity provided by the Prime Minister. While we are encouraged by a plan for non-essential stores to reopen, the heavy impact of the pandemic means some may never be able to.
“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.
“Non-essential shops are ready to reopen and have been investing hundreds of millions on making themselves Covid-secure.
“Government should remain flexible and allow non-essential retail to reopen as soon as the data suggests it is safe to do so. Until it is permitted, retailers will need continued support from Government.
“To avoid further job losses and permanent job closures, 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.”