What are the rules for locked out non-essential stores?

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Which stores need to close?

All non-essential businesses must close. This includes department stores, bookstores, tech stores and other mainstreet mainstays will have to close.

The full list of non-essential stores includes: clothing and household goods stores, vehicle showrooms (non-rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and clothing stores vaping, electronics and mobile phone stores, auction houses (except for livestock and farm equipment auctions) and market stalls selling non-essential goods.

These companies will still be able to operate a Click and Collect service.

Charity shops are also to close.

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What essential stores are open?

Food stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centers and non-licensing are considered essential retailers.

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Market stalls selling basic necessities, gas stations, taxi and vehicle rental companies, short-term loan providers, money transfer companies, medical and dental services, veterinarians and pet stores, funeral directors, laundromats and dry cleaners may also remain open.

Banks, real estate companies and post offices do not need to close.

How did we get here?

The new store closures come after a difficult year for retailers, who were forced to close stores between March and June during the first nationwide lockdown and again during the second UK lockdown in November.

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Many well-known names including the Arcadia Group (which includes Topshop and Burton), Laura Ashley, Edinburgh Woolen Mill and Cath Kidston have come into administration in the wake of the pandemic.

The government has yet to announce further support for businesses affected by the level four closures, outside of existing measures such as the holiday program, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended until April 2021.

What will anything change when the stores reopen?

When non-essential stores reopen after the lockdown, it is possible that stores will follow the lead of supermarkets and introduce stricter rules for face coverage and social distancing.

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Starting January 11, several supermarket chains announced they were cracking down on rule breakers, starting with Morrisons, who revealed they would ban shoppers who violate the regulations unless they are medically exempt. Following the news, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose also said they would take a tougher stance on those who do not follow government guidelines.

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