So what will non-essential shops in Atherstone and district have to do in order to re-open within Covid-19 secure guidelines?

  Posted: 10.06.20 at 08:20 by Nick Hudson

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SHOPS in Atherstone and beyond planning to reopen their doors next week face a new threat to their continued existence if they fail to comply with the "Covid-secure" guidelines.

Household names such as bakery chain Greggs and betting shop Ladbrokes/Coral have indicated they’ll be back in business on the high street from Monday.

Other town centre retailers – the Air Ambulance, Computer Solutions, and Roki Burger – have signalled their intention to emerge from a commercial cacoon, enforced by a Government trying to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Last night Business Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed proposals for the return of non-essential retail as the Government continued efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost all stores closed were ordered to close on March 23 when Boris Johnson put the UK into an unprecedented lockdown.

Mr Sharma’s announcement at a Downing Street press conference came after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson abandoned plans for all primary pupils to attend classes before the summer break.

But shops will only be able to open their doors if they have completed a Covid-19 risk assessment and can implement social distancing measures.

Enforcement notices can be issued if shops reopen without following the guidance, Mr Sharma warned.

"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.

Many businesses have warned that the rule requiring people to stay two metres apart would jeopardise their ability to reopen.

Mr Sharma said it was being kept under review and "when it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance".

He added: "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."

- So, which shops can open from June 15?
All non-essential retail shops will be able to reopen from Monday, provided they follow Government guidelines to make them "Covid-secure".

These include clothes and shoe shops, tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers, book shops, auction houses, antique shops, betting shops and arcades, electronics retailers, photography studios, retail art galleries, indoor markets, craft fairs and shops selling toys.

- What will retailers have to do to get ready?
Shops are expected to have carried out a risk assessment, overseen by local authority staff and the Health and Safety Executive.

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 will need to develop hygiene procedures, increasing the frequency of hand-washing and surface cleaning.

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.

They are also advised to place protective coverings on large items like sofas as they might be touched by passing shoppers.

Employers are also expected to place a notice on display so customers and staff can see that they are complying with the Government guidance.

The Government has said businesses may face fines and prison sentences of up to two years if they fail to protect customers and staff.

- What will the public have to do?
Shoppers will have to "exercise restraint" by not trying on clothing and testing goods, Cabinet Officer minister Michael Gove has previously said.

The Government has said that fitting rooms should be closed when possible due to the challenges in operating them safely.

When they need to be open, contact between customers and staff should be limited and they should be cleaned frequently, typically after each use.

Clothes that have been tried on should also be managed carefully.

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.

- Are there some businesses which still cannot open on June 15?
Yes. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said pubs, bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not be able to reopen until July 4 "at the earliest".

The Government said these businesses remain closed because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher due to there generally being long periods of person-to-person contact.

- Are there any concerns among these businesses about their reopening?
Yes. Organisations representing the hospitality industry have called for the rule requiring people to stay two metres apart to be reduced to one metre.

They fear many venues such as pubs and restaurants will not be able to make enough money if the current rule, which restricts customer numbers more severely, stays in place.

Mr Sharma said the two-metre rule was being kept under review and "when it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance".

He added: "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."

If you have any further questions on reopening safely from June 15, North Warwickshire Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council will be online today with a webinar between 1pm and 2pm.

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