COVID-19: Non-essential shops able to stay open until 10pm when restrictions ease, says government

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Retailers will be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week when they welcome back customers following months of closures in the third coronavirus lockdown, says the government.

Extended opening hours from Monday to Saturday will help people return safely to high streets when non-essential shops reopen in England from 12 April at the earliest, according to ministers.

The temporary measures will give customers greater flexibility to avoid peak times and ease transport pressures.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "To support businesses to reopen and recover, I've extended measures to allow shops to stay open for longer.

"This is part of a package of support to help reopen our shops and high streets safely - backed by £56m.

"This will provide a much-needed boost for many businesses - protecting jobs, reducing pressure on public transport and supporting people and communities to continue to visit their high streets safely and shop locally."

Mr Jenrick also wants councils to continue supporting social distancing measures and relaxing planning rules if possible to make sure people can still keep a safe distance on high streets.

And the government is extending flexible working hours on construction sites and allowing food deliveries to supermarkets over more time periods.

It is also keeping the flexibility for pubs and restaurants to put up marquees to help increase seating capacity in a COVID-secure way.

From 12 April at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, gyms, nail salons, libraries, and outdoor attractions such as theme parks will be allowed to reopen.

But no indoor mixing of different households will be allowed.

Also it's hoped from 12 April, outdoor hospitality will reopen, including pubs and restaurants - with the rule of six or a larger group from two households.

Customers will not have to buy a substantial meal to have an alcoholic drink and there will be no curfew but people will have to be seated when ordering and eating or drinking.