Minister confirms shops can reopen on Monday, but pubs and restaurants must wait
- Credit: PA
Non-essential shops in England can reopen on Monday, the government has confirmed, if they can comply with social distancing rules.
However, business secretary Alok Sharma reiterated, at today’s coronavirus briefing at 10 Downing Street, that pubs, bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not be able to reopen until July 4 “at the earliest”.
And he did not clarify when the two-metre social distancing rule could be changed, saying only that the government is keeping that under review.
The re-opening of shops on Monday, June 15, had hinged on the UK meeting the government’s five tests to lifting lockdown and Mr Sharma confirmed they could reopen.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “I can confirm today that retail outlets which have been required to be closed will be able to open their doors again from Monday, June 15 so long as they comply with the COVID-secure guidelines we published.
“This is the latest step in the careful restarting of our economy and will enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life.”
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Enforcement notices can be issued if shops reopen without following the guidance, he added.
But there was no movement on when pubs, restaurants and hairdressers can reopen.
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Mr Sharma told the Downing Street press conference: “Of course, there are businesses which still remain closed. As soon as we can we will publish further safer working guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars, as well as hairdressers, barbers, nail bars and related services.
“I know there’s been a lot of speculation about when we might be able to reopen these parts of the economy and I completely understand why we’re all so keen to get them back up and running, and I ab-solutely share that enthusiasm.
“But we continue to follow the road map which set out our ambition to reopen these sectors from July 4 at the earliest.”
While countries such as Denmark and Holland have shorter social distancing rules than the UK’s two-metre rule, Mr Sharma said that remained under review.
He said: “When it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance but ultimately we keep all of these things under review.
“There are other countries in the world that have moved from two metres to closer distances. Of course, they are further along in terms of their road map, in terms of opening up businesses.
“We are taking a cautious view on this. I completely understand why for economic reasons businesses will want to have a look at this two-metre rule.”
The briefing came as the total number of people who have died in hospital in England after testing posi-tive for coronavirus increased by 129 to 27,618.
The death of a man with COVID-19 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital was the first hospital death related to coronavirus in the county recorded for six days.The death of the man in his 80s at the NNUH on June 8 is the third coronavirus-related death at one of Norfolk’s hospitals this month.
The hospital said in a statement: “We can confirm that sadly a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions, and who had tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.”
The other two coronvirus-related deaths of patients in the county’s hospitals this month happened at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston and were recorded on June 1 and June 2.
The death at the NNUH is the first of a patient with the disease there since May 28.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn has not reported the death of a patient with COVID-19 since May 30.
To date, 382 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Norfolk’s three main hospitals, of which 123 have been at NNUH, 145 at QEH, and 114 at JPUH.