Q+A: complete guide to today’s reopening of shops
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
High streets across Norfolk and Suffolk will be reopening for the first time in three months today following the coronavirus lockdown in what is a major moment for businesses and shoppers across the region.
This newspaper has launched the Love Local campaign to encourage people to spend within our region and give the independent industry a vital boost as businesses across the county reopen their doors following the coronavirus lockdown.
But here is a look at what today might bring.
• What is reopening on Monday?
Zoos and safari parks, places of worship for private prayer, auction houses, photography studios, electronics retailers, indoor markets and all other non-essential shops such as those selling clothes, shoes and toys.
• What are shops expected to do?
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In order to reopen on Monday shops must be “Covid-secure”, and they will be expected to place a notice on display so customers and staff can see that they are complying with the government guidance.
Anywhere that’s reopening is expected to have carried out a risk assessment, overseen by local authority staff and the Health and Safety Executive.
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As well as informing all employees about the assessment’s findings, companies with more than 50 employees will be expected to publish the results on their website.
Shops must have developed hygiene procedures such as increasing the frequency of hand-washing and surface cleaning.
Items returned or “extensively handled” should be isolated for 72 hours or cleaned, guidance states.
Retailers will be expected to take steps including limiting how many customers there are inside their building at any one time and frequently cleaning and checking objects and surfaces.
Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers will monitor compliance with the regulations, supported by police. Breaches could result in prohibition notices and fixed penalties.
Failure to comply with a prohibition notice or pay a fixed penalty notice could result in being taken to court and facing potentially unlimited fines.
• What will customers have to do?
Be prepared to wait. As with supermarkets, which have been open throughout the pandemic, shoppers will have to employ their patience as they join queues at stores due to limits on the numbers of people who can enter at any one time.
Customers are likely to be greeted by floor markings indicating one-way systems and signs reminding them to keep two metres apart from other shoppers as well as staff.
The government has said that fitting rooms should be closed when possible due to the challenges in operating them safely, but if they cannot they should be cleaned frequently.
Store layouts may need to change to limit the amount customers handle merchandise, which may include different methods of displaying products or regularly replacing frequently touched stock.
Wearing masks, which is mandatory on public transport from Monday, is not compulsory in shops.
• If shopping is not my thing is there anything else new I can do from Monday?
You could take a trip to see some wildlife. Zoos can reopen, but the experience will be different for visitors.
Indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, will still be closed, cafes will be takeaway only, and social distancing and hygiene measures will greet the reduced number of visitors allowed.
Demand from a public eager to embrace some kind of normality saw that zoo’s website crash last week due to the number of people trying to get hold of tickets.
But with aquariums and tropical houses still closed and zoos in other regions of the UK not yet allowed to reopen Dr Christoph Schwitzer, chairman of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza), has said the organisation was “not under any illusions of the challenges we still face”.
• What about some quiet reflection?
Churches and other places of worship can open for private prayer in England from Monday.
Individuals are expected to be able to “reflect and pray” while adhering to social-distancing rules - but worship groups, weddings and other services will still not be permitted.
While the announcement of the partial reopening was welcomed, Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said there was a lack of clarity for mosque leaders on how to implement the regulations for their congregations.
He urged the government to give “clear and unambiguous guidance” to ensure the safety and wellbeing of worshippers.
Faith Minister Lord (Stephen) Greenhalgh has said communal worship will not be able to take place before July 4 at the earliest.
• Can I have a pint in my local or get a badly-needed haircut yet?
Afraid not. The hospitality sector remains closed, alongside hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons. They are working towards an earliest possible opening date of July 4.
• What’s happening in Northern Ireland?
All retailers, including those in shopping centres were allowed to reopen on Friday.
Places of worship opened for individual prayer on May 19, and drive-in church services were also allowed from that date.
Elite athletes have been given the all-clear to start training again from Monday. Ministers are also set to give indicative dates this week for a range of other sectors to begin reopening.
• And what about Wales?
Last week, economy minister Ken Skates said he would “absolutely” like to see non-essential retail reopening in Wales from June 22, but added that it will be dependent on the R number and the number of infections.
First Minister Mark Drakeford also said the Welsh government was hoping to be able to resume parts of the tourism industry before this year’s season ends, but it had to be done with “community consent”.
The next lockdown review point in Wales is Thursday.
• And north of the border in Scotland?
Thursday is also when Scotland is due to have its next review of lockdown measures. The phase two plan includes the possibility that small retail units could be allowed to reopen with physical distancing in place as well as outdoor markets with distancing, hygiene measures and controls on numbers of people.
Last week saw Nicola Sturgeon announce the construction industry would be able to move into the next stage of its reopening plan.