Three weeks after being allowed to re-open for business, estate agents are soon to be joined by the rest of their neighbours on high streets, it has been announced, assuming the government’s key Coronavirus reduction tests are met.
Car showrooms and outdoor market will be able to open in less than a week’s time on June 1st and all other retail outlets will be open two weeks later.
But this is not a return to normality. The government says businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” says Business Secretary and former housing minister Alok Sharma (left). “Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”
But the announcement has been received with scepticism in some quarters, as it appears to have been brought forward to distract people’s attention on the Dominic Cummings debacle.
His much-publicised press conference finished minutes before the retail revival announcement was made.
“The timing of the announcement that non-essential shops can potentially open from 15 June feels deeply orchestrated given ‘Durhamgate’,” says Jack Izzard, director of business recovery campaign organisation The Great British Bounce Back.
“While the news that shops can open from mid-June is a massive boost on the surface, the reality is that retailers have had their entire business models dynamited overnight and that this is largely a symbolic announcement.”