As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow both in the UK and globally, the government has announced its latest spate of measures to minimise its impact, including the immediate closure of all ‘non-essential’ stores for three weeks.
In a televised address on Monday evening, prime minister Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all stores selling 'non-essential’ goods, including fashion and electrical stores, in what he described as a “moment of national emergency.”
The prime minister also ordered people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes such as buying essential food or medical supplies, exercising once per day, medical reasons, and going to work when absolutely necessary. Gatherings of more than two people in public are also prohibited. All social events, including weddings and other ceremonies have been stopped, though funerals are still allowed.
Relevant authorities, including the police, have been granted the powers to enforce the new measures, with fines a possibility.
The measures will be reexamined in three weeks to see whether they can be relaxed, or whether they need to be tightened further.
“To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it - meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well,” the prime minister said.
Barclaycard raises contactless payment limit to 45 pounds
Payment provider Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions, announced it will be increasing the limit of its contactless payments from 30 to 45 pounds in light of the lockdown in a bid to minimise the time shoppers spend in stores and the amount of physical contact they have with cash and card terminals.
Fashion retailers shutter doors in unprecedented move to slow virus
The news comes after a long list of UK fashion brands and retailers already announced store closures in a bid to protect staff and curb the growth of the coronavirus.
Ahead of the PMs announcement on Monday, British retail stalwart John Lewis announced it would be temporarily closing its stores for the first time in 155 years of trading.
On the same day, Irish fast-fashion giant Primark said it would close all 189 of its UK stores “until further notice” and has cancelled all future orders. The company said it would be losing around 650 million pounds per month in net sales from the closure of its UK stores, which represent 41 percent of its annual revenues.
Tips for fashion and retail professionals during the coronavirus pandemic:
What else has the government done?
This latest announcement of measures to slow the growth of Covid-19 adds to a growing list of drastic moves the government is taking to battle the unprecedented pandemic, with one of its main priorities being to protect the countless UK businesses which have been impacted.
Earlier this month, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that for the first time in history the government would be paying people’s salaries. The government will pay up to 80 percent of wages up to 2,500 pounds per month for UK workers who have lost their job as a result of the coronavirus. Sunak said there would be “no limit” on how much money the government would make available for the scheme.
The government also announced it would defer VAT payments for UK businesses to June - relief worth over 30 billion pounds - and would provide 350 billion pounds in loans to soften the blow of the pandemic across the country’s economy.
Fashion brands do their bit to fight the virus
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, a spate of fashion brands have announced plans to aid in the fight against the pandemic.
They include rival French luxury conglomerates LVMH and Kering which have both announced they are donating millions of masks to help the medical professionals on the frontline. Spanish fast-fast giant Inditex and Swedish rival H&M are both working to convert parts of their supply chain to manufacture medical protective gear, while sustainable footwear brand Allbirds has offered all NHS workers working on the frontline a pair of shoes.
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