// PM Boris Johnson laid out a prospective timeline to ease lockdown restrictions on Sunday
// Some stores may reopen as early as next month
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that some shops may be able to reopen as early as next month as part of a phased easing of lockdown measures.
Johnson revealed a prospective timeline to ease lockdown restrictions on Sunday, which included the reopening of some shops in June.
However, he said the reopenings depended on the rate of Covid-19 infections, which he referred to as the R rate, staying below current levels.
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“In step two – at the earliest by June 1, after half-term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, year one and year six,” he said.
Johnson said the government would be providing more “detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport” this week.
Since the lockdown was implemented in late March, non-essential retailers closed their stores and traded online with enforced social distancing at warehouses.
Johnson said any changes to the current system would be made on the condition of a sustained fall in the number of coronavirus-related deaths.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said she “shares the same view of the prime minister” in that safety is what counts when determining the dates of store reopenings.
“Already retailers around the country are working on plans for reopening safely and with all necessary social distancing measures in place,” she said.
“The BRC and Usdaw have supported this process with our own social distancing guidance, learning from the experiences of thousands of supermarkets and other essential retailers.
“It is vital that the reopening of stores is based on who can do so safely, as opposed to trying to draw lines in terms of different sizes or types of shop.
“Further clarity is needed in the coming days and we look forward to more details from the government.
“We need a plan for shopping as well as shops – this means a plan that allows safe navigation both to and through our retail centres – and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the government to support this process.”
In April, Springboard found that the UK’s retail sector saw its largest ever decline in footfall as shoppers stayed home due to the pandemic.
There was a “decline of unprecedented magnitude” as the number of people at retail sites dropped by a colossal 80.1 per cent, according to Springboard’s latest monthly footfall monitor.
The decline was almost double the level of the downturn in March, which posted a 41.3 per cent drop as the lockdown came into force.