When will garden centres, tips, gyms, offices and shops reopen?

When will garden centres like Urban Jungle (pictured) reopen? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

When will garden centres like Urban Jungle (pictured) reopen? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

As Norfolk enters its sixth week in lockdown, the public is beginning to question when a return to the ‘new normal’ might be. Early indicators are the businesses tentatively drawing up their shutters, with social distancing measures in place to abide by the government’s lockdown rules.

Norwich in the lockdown. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Norwich in the lockdown. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

But which of our shops and services might return first? Here, we take a look at industry sentiment and the public mood.

MORE: Greggs to reopen some stores despite lockdown- Garden centres

Staying at home hasn’t meant staying inside, and as a result many of us have turned our free time to our gardens.

Norwich in the lockdown. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Norwich in the lockdown. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Home and garden store Homebase announced last week it was set to begin reopening stores, having taken precautions to make them safe for operation under social distancing measures.

The news has put pressure on the government to reopen other garden centres, with former environment secretary Theresa Villiers saying it was “unfair” that competitors were open when garden centres were not.

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A poll published by YouGov yesterday showed that 70% of the public said they would be comfortable with garden centres reopening when lockdown measures are eased.

- Tips

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Tips around the UK have begun to reopen after some authorities noted a spike in fly-tipping during lockdown.

Norfolk may take heed from our neighbours in Cambridge, where preparations are being made to reopen tips as soon as the government gives them the green light.

- Department stores

Department stores are arguably well-placed to reopen with social distancing measures in place given their size.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said shops need to be prepared to reopen when they are told they can do so.

Advice issued by the BRC and Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers this week told shop owners and managers to issue hand sanitiser to customers, as well encouraging customers to shop alone, and scheduling deliveries to avoid crowding in shops.

Other advice consisted of cleaning door handles, lift buttons, and hand rails, and using floor markings to remind customers to remain two metres apart. John Lewis has recently announced its intention to open in a month with these measures in place.

- Gyms

According to the public, gyms are the place people will be least comfortable going after lockdown measures are lifted.

In the YouGov poll, only 30% of people said they would be comfortable going back to the gym when lockdown was lifted – with 62% of people saying they would be uncomfortable with the prospect.

When gyms will open is unknown – however the industry’s body UKactive published a report this week outlining a four-stage process it was undertaking to support the sector back into motion.

This includes research to provide operators with data on how to reopen, a framework on how to operationally reopen, a public safety campaign and lobbying for policy support from government.

MORE: Advice to shops on how to safely reopen after lockdown - Larger offices

The chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly been in meetings with business leaders about how he can get the public back to work in a “safe and practical” way.

The plans, which were reported by The Times, are only set to come in after a review of the current lockdown measures scheduled for May 7.

The plans reportedly include keeping members of staff two metres apart and asking those with symptoms not to come to work, as well as keeping communal areas such as canteens closed.

- Non-essential shops

Non-essential shops like Greggs and Timpsons have announced this week they will be reopening some stores as a trial amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Timpson, which deals with metal work from watch straps to key cutting, said they would be reopening some stores which are located in supermarkets.

However, chief executive James Timpson said that social distancing measures “will remain in place until government advice is updated and in consultation with our supermarket partners.”

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