Mixed response to England's easing of social distancing measures

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) have had mixed responses to the government’s plan to ease social distancing rules.

From 4 July, the two metre social distancing rule will be relaxed to “one metre plus” in England, Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday. He added that “where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should.”

It follows warnings by companies that they risk collapse if the government doesn’t ease measures.

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson welcomed the decision, noting that it brings the country in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) safety guidance.

“Retailers have worked hard to effectively implement social distancing measures during the pandemic and the safety of staff and customers will continue to be their main priority. The reduction will support shops, which have faced limits to footfall - and therefore spending - as a result of the distancing measures,” Dickinson said.

"The reopening of restaurants, bars and other services will also help encourage people back to our high streets. This is vital to reviving our town centres and we hope the public plays their part in supporting our local high streets. Every purchase we make is a shop helped and a job supported.”

However, Usdaw urged retailers to maintain social distancing of two metres in stores. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “It has taken a lot of hard work and effort to make the changes to encourage customers to follow social distancing of two metres in shops that stayed open throughout the lockdown.

“Non-essential retailers have also redesigned their stores on the basis of two-metre social distancing for their reopening. So we urge retailers to maintain their existing safety measures. Retail is working well under the two-metre rule, it is not necessary to reduce to one metre, which could compromise the safety of staff and customers and create confusion.”

Photo credit: FashionUnited


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