Business Secretary announces all shops can reopen from Monday if ‘Covid-secure’


The lockdown will ease significantly from Monday with all shops and zoos allowed to reopen as the government steps up efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

At the daily Downing Street press conference yesterday, Alok Sharma, the business secretary, confirmed that from June 15 non-essential retailers, such as clothes stores and bookshops, would be able to welcome customers for the first time since March 23 — but only if they had made their premises “Covid-secure”.

Boris Johnson will say today that zoos will also be allowed to open from Monday after concerns that many face bankruptcy, with the risk of thousands of animals having to be put down.

Mr Sharma said that other businesses, including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms, would remain shut until July 4 at the earliest. The announcement appeared to remove the idea that pubs with beer gardens would be allowed to open on June 22.

Only retailers deemed essential have been allowed to open since March 23. The lockdown has cost non-food stores nearly £1.8 billion a week, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Mr Sharma said that shops would be able to trade only if they had completed a Covid-19 risk assessment and could implement social-distancing measures. Enforcement notices could be issued to stores that do not follow the guidance. “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,” he said.

It was unclear how many stores would return on Monday. Many retailers warned that the rule requiring people to stay two metres apart was jeopardising their commercial viability.