/All non-essential shops to close immediately

All non-essential shops to close immediately

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All shops selling non-essential goods will be closed immediately as the government imposes tougher controls to try and fight the coronavirus.

The shutdown will include clothing and electronic shops and other premises such as chocolate and book chains.

However, shops which sell essential items, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, will remain open.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measures would cause disruption but save lives.

A host of High Street retailers and food chains, such as Ikea, John Lewis and Next, have already shut, leaving tens of thousands of people temporarily without work.

But others such as WH Smith and B&Q had vowed to stay open while adhering to stricter social distancing policies.

Mr Johnson said: “I know the damage that this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and to their jobs.

“And that’s why we have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.”

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Image caption

Primark said on Sunday it planned to close all its stores

Only a small group of retailers will be allowed to stay open including:

  • Post Offices
  • Petrol stations
  • Vets
  • Retail shops in hospitals
  • Laundrettes
  • Funeral homes

However, retailers will still be able to take online orders and deliver items to your home.

The UK government said this week it will pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a move aimed at protecting people’s jobs.

It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.

Many retail and hospitality firms have warned the pandemic could see them collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is put on hold.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of retail lobby group the British Retail Consortium, said many shops had already closed temporarily.

“Others have continued to provide essential products and services to their customers, both from physical stores and online.

“Any retailers that remain open will be following the very latest government public health guidance to ensure they do everything they can to ensure the safety of customers and staff.”

The government had already ordered pubs, restaurants and cafes to close amid concerns that people were ignoring its advice to keep social contact to a minimum.

Monday night’s announcement came as the number of UK deaths from coronavirus hit 335, while there were 6,650 confirmed cases.

Many of the big brands to have already announced closures have promised to pay their staff for several weeks until the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme kicks in.

However, concern is growing about the millions of self-employed and gig economy workers who will be forced to rely on benefits in the absence of targeted support.

Neil Carberry, boss of lobby group the Recruitment and Employment Confederation , said the announcement reinforced the need for businesses and workers to access government support measures “as quickly as possible”.

“With the economy and jobs market in lockdown, all employers can do is stand by their staff as far as possible and reap the benefits during the post-crisis comeback,” he added.

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