United Kingdom

When are non-essential shops allowed to reopen, and which stores are open now?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a month-long lockdown from November 5 after being told the NHS was on course to become overwhelmed within five weeks amid a national resurgence of Covid-19.

People in England are, once again, being asked to "stay at home", with members of the public only allowed to leave their homes for a series of specified reasons, including "essential" shopping. 

Here's our guide to which shops are staying open and which are being locked down.

What essential shops are open?

Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open.

Essential retail should follow Covid-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Non-essential retail can remain open for delivery to customers and click-and-collect.

Grocery stores will remain open and, unlike Wales, none of their aisles selling non-essential goods will be closed off.

Hardware stores and garden centres are expected to be allowed to remain open, as long as they can operate in a Covid-secure way.

What shops will be forced to close?

To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close.

All non-essential retailers will have to close from Thursday, meaning many shops will be closed during one of their most profitable months of the year.

These include all non-essential retail including - but not limited to - clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.​

Non-essential retailers will still be allowed to offer click and collect services if they can be Covid-secure, as well as being able to trade online.

Are takeaways open?

Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.

Why do shops have to close?

As with pubs, restaurants and other places of social activity, the Government wants to stop any chance the virus has of spreading  between people, particularly people in groups.

Shops can help the virus to spread because it can live on surfaces for some time - so the items you pick up in the shop could be carrying the virus; you could then become infected yourself or pass it on to someone else. Scientists say that closing shops greatly reduces the risk of spreading the virus.

If fewer people get infected, there will be less strain on the NHS and more lives can be saved.

Will bike shops stay open?

As seen in the previous lockdown, bike stores will be given the green light to remain open. As all gyms and fitness centres closed their doors on Thursday, November 5, bikes are one of the only ways people can exercise, which makes bike stores among the list of ‘essential stores’. 

Will car showrooms & dealerships stay open?

Car showrooms will close their doors under the new lockdown measures and will remain closed until December 2, at least. However, the Government has announced that purchased cars will still be delivered to the customer’s house, while, alternatively, customers who confirmed the purchase of a car prior to lockdown will have the option to collect their vehicle from the dealership, in a system which mirrors "click and collect". 

Will hardware shops stay open?

Hardware shops will be allowed to remain open during the second lockdown, the government has confirmed, as long as they follow Covid-19 safety guidelines. Following the news, Wickes, B&Q, Homebase and Screwfix have all indicated that their stores will remain open nationwide.

Will the Post Office remain open?

Post offices will remain open as an essential service, the government has confirmed, on the provision that Covid-safe guidelines are strictly adhered to. This measure follows on from the restrictions seen in the first lockdown, when all Post Offices continued to trade, while the Royal Mail continued their postal delivery service. 

Will libraries stay open?

Libraries will be able to remain open for click-and-collect services and to provide IT access, but will otherwise face restrictions during the second lockdown.  

Will Argos close?

Argos stores inside Sainsbury’s will remain open for customers who are collecting orders they have placed online whilst shopping for groceries and other essentials.

Argos will likely be forced to close its stores, having been classed as a non essential shop in the initial lockdown. The store is still offering delivery when you order online throughout November. 

Can I still go to the dentist? 

Unlike the previous lockdown, dentists will remain open and will continue to welcome patients for routine appointments. This move comes after the Prime Minister encouraged people not to neglect their NHS appointments, despite the severe new lockdown measures. 

Can I still visit a garden centre?

Yes, garden centres will remain open throughout the latest lockdown, as they are among the essential stores, to sell goods which the public will need to access throughout November. However, it is vital these centres follow the appropriate social distancing measures in order to keep shoppers safe throughout the new lockdown.  

Will estate agents close?

The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, suggested that the housing market will remain in business throughout the second lockdown, in a statement which contrasts the rules of the first lockdown in March. However, there has been no word on whether estate agents will be physically forced to close their doors over the coming month, as all ‘non- essential retail’ will pause until December 2nd.

Will golf courses stay open?

Golf courses will be forced to close over lockdown, alongside all leisure and sports centres, gyms, swimming pools and other exercise locations. 

Read more: What sport can I still play in lockdown?

Are vets open?

Veterinary practices are classed as essential businesses and so can stay open.

The Government has confirmed vets will be allowed to stay open, providing they follow Covid-secure guidelines.

Members of the veterinary team should work from home if possible and veterinary professionals should exercise clinical judgement to assess and triage essential animal health and welfare needs in the context of the lockdown.

Are recycling centres open?

Yes, recycling centres will remain open.

The Government website says the majority of public services will continue and you will be able to leave home to visit them. Among these services recycling centres are listed.

Are opticians open?

The Government have said that opticians will remain open throughout the lockdown. The  Association of Optometrists (AOP) has confirmed this with NHS England.

In the first lockdown, routine procedures and check ups for optical care were delayed, while emergency treatment was still allowed.

Opticians will now be allowed to provide routine sight tests and offer emergency care.

In some areas, the wait for an appointment may be longer. Practises may have to prioritise patients based on the greatest need.

Practises must be Covid-safe and follow the public health advice to ensure correct PPE and infection control processes are in place.

Are banks open?

Banks are among some of the businesses which are permitted to stay open.

The Government have listed banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses as being allowed to stay open during the four week lockdown.

They must follow Covid-secure guidelines and ensure all the necessary PPE is worn.

Are Greggs & McDonalds open?

Although hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs are closed, venues are still allowed to provide food and drink for takeaway (before 10pm; and not including alcohol). This includes drive-through or delivery.

Greggs is allowed to remain open during lockdown.

The bakery will be open for takeaway and delivery orders. These can be place on JustEat, the Greggs website or Greggs Rewards app.

While seating remains closed, branches will remain open for customers to pick up their orders.

Dine-in areas in McDonalds are also closed but it's Drive-Thru sites are still open, and it still offers takeaway and delivery services via Uber Eats and Just Eat.

However, McDonald's UK chief executive Paul Pomroy has said that some restaurants operating hours and services may vary.

Is Halfords open?

Halfords will remain open for the four week lockdown.

As an essential retailer and following government guidance, the stores, garages and mobile experts will remain open across the country in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Although the stores that remain open may change over time, you can find the opening hours of shops and garages near you here.

Their mobile services will continue to serve customers, and they're open 24/7 online at www.halfords.com for delivery.

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