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Non-essential stores close in England and Scotland amid new lockdowns

By Huw Hughes

5 Jan 2021

All non-essential retailers in England and Scotland have closed once again amid new, stricter lockdown measures across both countries.

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Monday that, as of midnight, all non-essential stores would close, people should remain at home and schools would close until February.

A few hours later, prime minister Boris Johnson made a similar announcement about England.

A review of the restrictions is expected to take place in England in mid-February “if the situation in hospitals improves”.

Northern Ireland and Wales have already made similar announcements, meaning all non-essential retailers in the UK are now closed.

It comes amid a drastic increase in cases seen across the UK attributed to the new variant of Covid-19 which scientists have confirmed is between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible.

Non-essentail stores shut across the UK

On 4 January, there were 26,626 Covid patients in hospitals in England, an increase of over 30 percent in just one week.

The case rate in England up to 29 December was 478.5 per 100,000 people, three times higher than on 1 December.

The lockdown announcements, though largely expected, will certainly sting for retailers who just months ago were hoping to salvage lost revenue over the important Christmas and January sales periods.

Responding to the announcement of a national lockdown in England, British Retail Consortium (BRC) CEO Helen Dickinson said in a statement: “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 pounds 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.”

Photo credit: Pixabay