Retailers in England will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run-up to Christmas and through January, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced.
Currently, non-essential retail outlets are closed as part of nationwide lockdown measures, however, they will be able to reopen from Wednesday 2 December.
Planning rules which limit retail opening hours will be eased to allow shops to stay open for longer on Monday to Saturday, in a move which is designed to act as a boost to business, help ease transport pressures and make socially distanced shopping easier by giving people greater flexibility.
According to the UK Government, longer opening hours will mean an ‘even safer shopping experience’ during the festive and new-year period when shops are usually much busier.
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
“None of us entirely enjoy navigating the crowds, especially now when social distancing is so important for controlling the pandemic. So with these changes your local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
“How long will be a choice for shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council. Councils should offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.”
Usually, restrictions may be imposed by local authorities when they grant planning permission for individual stores, such as a limit on them only be allowed to open from 9am to 7pm unless a separate agreement is reached.
Normally, a retailer would need to apply for the removal of such conditions, but the measures announced today mean that local authorities should take a ‘positive approach’ to lapse these over the festive period.
The rules, as announced, will only initially apply in England. Asked about the possibility of restrictions being changed to allow retailers to open longer hours in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that the Welsh Government would have to look at the evidence to see if there is a public health benefit to extended opening hours.