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UK lockdown: All non-essential shops ordered to close

Following a statement by Prime Minster Boris Johnson yesterday evening, all non-essential shops in the UK have been ordered to close, but online retail continues as normal.

Addressing the nation at 8:30pm last night (23 March), Johnson told people in the UK to stay at home to help slow the spread of Covid-19. Movement is now restricted in the UK, gatherings of more than two people have been banned, and non-essential shops have been closed.

As well as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés, other premises that must now shut include non-essential retail stores, hotels, and outdoor gyms.

Exceptions include supermarkets and other food shops; health shops; pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies; petrol stations; bicycle shops; home and hardware shops; launderettes and dry cleaners; bicycle shops; garages; car rentals; pet shops; corner shops; newsagents; post offices; and banks.

Takeaway and delivery services, however, are allowed continue and be operational in line with guidance given on 20 March. This guidance was that all pubs, bars and restaurants should close to people dining in, but could provide take-out services instead.

Online retail is also “still open and encouraged and postal and delivery service will run as normal”.

Further guidance can be viewed here.

Johnson added: “To ensure compliance with the government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately: close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises, including libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

“No prime minster wants to enact measures like this. 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 produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support for workers and for business.

“I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to. But at present, there are no easy options. The way ahead is hard and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost.”

Alcohol retailers have already been closing their stores and moving to online deliveries, while many breweries and distilleries are now operating ‘drive-thrus’ to limit contact with the public.

Many, however, have struggled to cope with what they’ve called unprecedented demand. Last week online wine retailer Naked Wines temporarily suspended orders, while Majestic’s website remains offline. 

The Wine Society and Wiltshire-based Yapp Bros also told db they had all seen increased demand for online sales over the last week – but fulfillment remains a slight concern.

Laithwaite’s told The Telegraph that the boom in sales was on a par with those experienced during Black Friday. 

Jancis Robinson MW has also published a list of over 450 retailers around the world, though predominantly in the UK, who are able to deliver to customers. The list can be viewed here. 

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