Retailers will reopen their doors after a month of lockdown on tomorrow (December 2).
And, in a bid to help the country’s ailing high street, councils will be able to waive rules that restrict retailers’ opening hours.
Non-essential shops to open 24/7
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick outlined the new plans.
He said he wanted to ensure Brits were able to enjoy a “more pleasant and safe shopping experience” in the run up to Christmas.
Currently shops must apply for special permission to open outside the hours of 9am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday.
I suggest we offer these hard-pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.
However, Jenrick wants to suspend the process, which can take weeks, to help business owners.
He said retailers should be able to decide their own opening hours in December and January.
And, he added, that could mean shops opening 24 hours a day.
‘More pleasant and safer shopping’
Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
“How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council. But I suggest we offer these hard-pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.
“Therefore I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond if wish.”
Which shops will extend their opening hours?
Primark has revealed that 11 of its stores will reopen at 7am tomorrow and not close until the usual closing time on December 3.
Stores in retail parks will open till at least 10pm, with some branches of Primark remaining open till midnight.
John Lewis, M&S, Waitrose, Next and Aldi have also said they will all run with extended opening hours.
SAGE issues warning to shoppers
However, the extended opening hours have come with a warning from scientists.
SAGE professor Lucy Yardley advised the less time you spend in a shop “the safer you are”.
She advised spending “less than 15 minutes” inside a shop to reduce your risk of catching coronavirus.
She added: “So that’s quite a generous amount of time. I’m not sure that most of us would need that amount of time in a shop.”
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