When does lockdown end for me? A small business guide
An update on the government's latest post-lockdown plans
As the Covid-19 curve continues to gradually flatten and the R rate hovers below one, the government has outlined plans for how different businesses in different sectors will be able to re-open.
The plans are constantly changing, and could of course be reversed should a second wave of Covid-19 hit the UK. However, to date, here's a brief summary of the government's re-opening plans:
Essential retailers and takeaways open
Supermarkets, grocery shops, newsagents, dry cleaners, mechanics and other essential retailers have of course remained open throughout lockdown. But in certain sectors, some confusion has remained about whether or not they should be open.
DIY and hardware shops, for example, are classified as essential so can be fully open. Takeaways have also been able to remain open. But restaurants and cafes have remained closed - unless they can fulfil takeaway or delivery orders exclusively.
Construction, logistics and manufacturing all returning
Construction, logistics, manufacturing, food production, distribution companies and many more similar industries are now actively going back to work. For other sectors, we're in a bit more of a halfway house. The government has suggested that where people can easily work from home, they should continue to do so. Estate agents, for example, are gradually returning, because thousands of people are already in the process of moving home.
For many industries, it's a case of applying common sense and caution.
Non-essential retail is back from 15 June
Non-essential retail - which is essentially every other retail sector - can officially return from 15 June.
Many large fashion chains and homewares brands have already announced their plans to return from this date. And small retailers will have to ensure they have put measures in place before this date to ensure the safety of customers and employees.
Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers to open from 4 July
The wait for everyone else is unfortunately a little longer.
Hairdressers and nail salons are in discussions to secure an earlier opening date, but as it stands they will be back from 4 July. Restaurants have often remained open if they served takeaway, but from 4 July they can serve customers on their premises. And pubs, despite serving takeaway pints on sunny weekends, can officially reopen from this date too.
Many questions remain
Of course, a great many questions remain.
What happens if a second wave of the virus appears? What are the exact measures and standards that need to be met to ensure the safety of employees and customers? And what plans are in place should a second lockdown be required?
While the government is attempting to find answers for these questions and more, for now, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for every industry.