When will shops reopen and what will the rules be?

Max Stephens
Social distancing signs are seen in a shopping centre in Canary Wharf, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez - Reuters

Boris Johnson has announced that high-street shops, department stores and shopping centres will be allowed to reopen on June 15 as part of the Government's three-stage plan to ease lockdown measures. 

The Prime Minister stressed that this will be 'contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus', and that retailers will have to demonstrate their premises are 'Covid-secure' before they are allowed to reopen. 

The June 15 reopening date is dependent on the Government continuing to meet the 'five tests' laid out for easing lockdown - not overwhelming the NHS, a sustained fall in deaths, reducing the rate of infections, ensuring PPE and test supplies can be met, and being confident that adjustments would not risk a second peak.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms are permitted to reopen on June 1, with Mr Johnson saying that "social distancing is generally easier" in these settings because of their more spacious nature.

Shops planning to reopen such as Marks & Spencer and Ikea have already said that they will impose restrictions on the numbers of customers entering their stores and that close-contact services such as clothes fitting and make-up are to remain suspended until further notice. 

Hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, pubs, clubs and restaurants will, however, remain closed until at least July, because the Government says the risk of transmission is higher because of greater person-to-person contact over longer periods.

It is unclear just how many retailers will be opening their doors in June, but this is what we know so far. 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10659777bb) People pass shut stores on Oxford Street in London, Britain, 27 May 2020. Non-essential shops have been given the go-ahead to open their doors again on 15 June. Coronavirus in Britain, London, United Kingdom - 27 May 2020 - Shutterstock

Q:What retailers are opening in June?

A: John Lewis stores in Poole and Kingston will be the first to reopen on June 15  followed by another 11 sites later that week. The stores at Bluewater, Cambridge, Cheadle, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Horsham, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham, Solihull and Welwyn will welcome customers back on Thursday 18 June. 

Debenhams will be reopening  90 of its stores  in England on June 15. A further 40 outlets in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to open at a later date. 

Frasers Group which includes  Sports Direct, Jack Wills, Game and House of Fraser  have indicated they are planning to reopen on June 15 and say they have been  preparing to reopen  as many as 800 UK stores on Monday, June 1.  

Currys have already opened 19 of its stores since May 22 on a drive-through, collection only basis. Customers are asked to place their order online before driving and parking at one of the open outlets. Once they have confirmed through email their arrival, a staff member will then load the boot of the car with the purchased product. 

Ikea is set to open  19 stores on June 1 with outlets in Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.

Halfords will fully reopen 53 of its outlets  on Friday, May 29 after successfully trialing social-distancing measures on its shop floors. Branches in Gloucester, Huddersfield, Inverness and North Shields are just some of the sites expected to  reopen. 

Greggs have announced they are hoping to open around 800 of its stores in the middle of June.

Waterstones have not indicated whether they will be joining the other retailers on June 15 but have said they will place any books that are touched by browsing customers in a 72 hour quarantine.  Its warehouse is currently operating with a reduced workforce, and click and collect services remain suspended for the time being.

Boots will open their beauty counters on June 15. The pharmacy chain has remained open throughout the lockdown due to its status as an essential business, providing medication to people during the pandemic.

LONDON, UK - MAY 15: General view of customers practising social distancing after the store adopted safe measures to protect both customers and staff at home improvement store B&Q in Chiswick as lockdown restrictions start to ease after 7 weeks on May 15, 2020 in London, England. The chain, part of the Kingfisher Group was classed as an essential retailer during the coronavirus lockdown. Shops were close in March but the chain was offering contactless click and collect services. Now as restrictions are eased in the eighth of Lockdown, all 288 UK B&Q stores are now open. Following the example of supermarkets, B&Q is limiting the number of customers in store at any one time and has put strict social distancing measures in place. These include sanitiser stations for trolleys; safe queuing 2 metres apart before entering the store; 2 metre navigational markers on the floor and directional arrows to guide customers through the store; perspex screens at checkouts; and card and contactless payments only. The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Ming Yeung/Getty Images) - Getty

Q: What social distancing measures can I expect? 

A: The Government has issued fresh guidance to staff and shop owners for preventative measures that should be in place in stores to reduce the transmission of the virus. 

Mr Johnson said that non-essential retail would  open on June 15 "provided the five tests are still being met, and shops have been made Covid-secure".

Shoppers should expect to wait in queues outside as many stores will be limiting the number of entrances they have open and imposing a restriction on the number of customers entering at any one time.

 John Lewis have said that fitting rooms will remain closed until further notice. Returned stock will be separated from other items for 72 hours - in line with government guidance - and the use of escalators and lifts is also to be restricted. 

Perspex protective screens at checkouts will be in place at Boots, with counters and tills covered to reduce virus transmission. There will be a triage system in place to meet the different needs of customers, whilst testers and face-to-face beauty consultations will operate via video for the forseeable future to adhere with social distancing.

Ikea will initially be operating with reducing opening hours, and wardens will be patrolling aisles in Ikea and Boots to ensure that distances of two metres are being kept to by customers.

Other steps that could be taken include virtual queuing, returns drop boxes, and enabling collection of online orders from car parks. A number of retailers will only operate on a click-and-collect basis to begin with.

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London Original description: Protective screens are seen at a Pret a Manger store in a shopping centre in Canary Wharf, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 27, 2 - Reuters

Q: Can I take my children to the shops?

A: Whilst public gatherings of more than two people have been banned, the Government has made an exception for those who live together.

This means that parents who are unable to leave children at home whilst they shop for essentials can take them with them to the supermarket.

From June 1, the restrictions will change and public gatherings of up to six people will be allowed, although the Prime Minister has stressed that "minimising contact with others is still the best way to avoid transmission" of the virus.