// Non-essential retailers in England to shut stores as a third national lockdown comes into place for at least 6 weeks
// PM Boris Johnson said this is due to the highly contagious new strain of Covid
// Scotland also announced a national lockdown. Wales and Northern Ireland are already in lockdown
Non-essential retailers have been forced to shut their stores across England following the announcement of a third national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
England, as well as Scotland, will both re-enter national lockdowns this week with people told to stay at home unless for crucial reasons – reflecting the first lockdown in March 2020.
All non-essential retail across both nations will now close temporarily in a further blow to the retail sector.
England’s lockdown will be in place until at least mid-February, while the Scottish government will review the measures at the end of this month.
Wales and Northern Ireland are already in the middle of their own respective national lockdowns.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday night that England’s lockdown was as a result of the rapidly spreading new strain of Covid, which is between 50 per cent and 70 per cent more contagious.
Tier 4 restrictions, which had been implemented in most regions including London, Greater Manchester and Birmingham before the New Year, meant much of non-essential retail was already closed prior to the new lockdown measures.
Swathes of Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, were also in similar Tier 4 restrictions before the New Year.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said retailers were supportive of the national lockdown measures but warned that further business support was needed.
“The continued rise in Covid cases over the Christmas period is a significant cause for concern and we understand the need for the government to act,” Dickinson said.
“The government’s testing programme and a rapid roll-out of vaccines are key to bringing an end to this cycle of lockdowns and we have made clear to the government that the retail industry is willing to make its resources available to support this effort.
“The consequences of these latest restrictions – with non-essential retail already closed for several weeks – will be severe for many businesses who yet again face losing £2 billion per week in sales.
“Already, 178,000 retail jobs have been lost in 2020 and with over 250,000 retail staff currently on furlough, that number could increase dramatically in the new year.
“Retailers want to trade their way to recovery but if they are forced to close then further financial support will be needed or many businesses will go bust and thousands of viable jobs will be lost.
“The biggest difference the government can make is to extend business rates relief from April for those hardest hit by repeated lockdowns.”