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The coronavirus crisis has significantly altered people’s way of life. Despite being just five weeks away from Christmas, a prime retail opportunity for most retailers, all non-essential retailers are currently closed to visitors as England continues its second national lockdown. But now Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined his winter plan for coronavirus – when can shops reopen?

Mr Johnson laid out his plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19 this winter on Monday, November 23.

England entered a four-week national lockdown on Thursday, November 5, but at the end of this period, England will once again be placed into a three-tier system.

More details about which areas will be assigned to what tier will be announced in the coming days, but the PM warned “more regions will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before”.

He also revealed the new three-tier system will last until March.

Mr Johnson said: “We will continue to bear down hard on this virus.

“We will use tough tiering – in some ways tougher than the pre-lockdown measures and details of those tiers are on the gov.uk website later this week when we have the most up to data and we will be sharing details of which tier your area is going to be in.

“I should warn you now that many more places will be in higher tiers than alas was previously the case and we will simultaneously be using the new and exciting possibilities of community testing – as they have done in Liverpool and there will be a clear incentive for everyone in areas where the virus prevalence is high to get a test, to get one of these rapid turnaround lateral flow tests and do your best for the community.

“Get a test to help to squeeze the disease and reduce the restrictions that your town or city or area has endured and that way – through tough tiering and mass community testing.

“We hope to let people see a little more of their family and friends over Christmas.”

What are the new rules?

  • All tiers will have a uniform set of rules, with no space for negotiation for different areas.
  • Everyone should work from home if they can.
  • Shops and personal care services can reopen.
  • Early years settings, schools, colleges and universities can remain open.
  • Registered childcare, other supervised child activities and childcare activities are permitted.
  • Indoor leisure facilities including gyms and swimming pools can reopen.
  • Elite sport, under-18 sport and disabled sport can continue. 
  • Police officers will be empowered to close down premises breaking the rules.

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When can shops reopen?

The Prime Minister confirmed non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers across the country can reopen when England’s lockdown comes to an end on Wednesday, December 2.

The exact end date is 12.01am on December 2, which means shops are permitted to open on that day.

Since the lockdown was implemented only essential retailers could remain open to physical visitors.

Instead, shops selling clothes, electronics and other non-essential goods and services were required to close.

However, they were permitted to trade using delivery and click-and-collect services.

Mr Johnson said: “I really am now assured things really will look and feel very different indeed after Easter and that the idea of an end goal or date is important because at last – if the promise of the vaccines is fulfilled – we do have something to work for.

“A timescale, a goal around which businesses can begin tentatively to plan and with luck and with hard work we will be seeing improvements before then.

“But for now the problem is not a shortage of hope or a lack of optimism, not with the amazing news that we are getting from the laboratories in this country.

“The challenge now as we face this difficult winter ahead is to fight down any over-optimism, to master any tendency to premature celebration of success.

“That success will come all the faster if we work together to follow the guidance and maintain the basic disciplines as people have done so heroically over the last few months.

“Hands, face, space and get a test if you have symptoms because that is the way we will beat it together.”

Measures across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be decided by each devolved administration.

However, Mr Johnson said each nation was working to create a joint approach to Christmas.

This approach will be outlined in full later this week.

The PM said: “Christmas this year will be different and we want to remain prudent through Christmas and beyond into the new year, but we will use the three tools that I have described to squeeze the virus in the weeks and months ahead: tiering, testing and the roll-out of vaccines.

“Employing all three techniques together so as to drive down R and drive down the infection rate and I really am now assured things really will look and feel very different indeed after Easter.”

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