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Extended Opening Hours Announced by Government

29th March 2021

The government has given non-essential shops the flexibility to open until 10pm after they welcome back customers on 12th April.

Under the roadmap out of lockdown, the next stage of relaxing COVID restrictions will permit businesses such as clothes shops to open their doors to the public. To enhance this relaxation further, long-suffering non-essential retailers may apply to extend their trading hours to remain open from 7am until 10pm from Monday to Saturday.

The initiative was introduced by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, and is geared to help non-essential shops increase their trading potential as they start on the road to recovery following extended periods of closure over the past year.

Amongst a flurry of other government announcements, Mr. Jenrick also launched the £56 million Welcome Back Recovery Fund for local councils last week to aid economic recovery whilst ensuring a safe shopping experience for the public.

He has urged local councils, who are the body responsible for dictating the opening times of shops, to have a “positive and flexible approach” in permitting the new trading hours.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) welcomed the decision, stating that it would allow people to avoid busier shopping times from the re-open date. Despite this, it is believed that stores will be capable of providing a safe environment for shoppers even at peak times: “retailers have invested hundreds of millions in making their stores COVID-secure, implementing additional hygiene measures, perspex screens, social distancing and more.”

However, this announcement echoes back to Jenrick’s decision to permit 24-hour Christmas shopping. Many businesses commented that there was not sufficient customer demand through the later hours to justify the operational and staffing costs associated with keeping their doors open.

Additionally, the government has pledged to help pubs and restaurants set up marquees to increase external seating capacity, as they are also permitted to open for outdoor service on April 12th.

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