22.2.2021

What Does the Reopening Timetable Mean for Retail and Hospitality?

Written by James Shaw

shirota yuri 5IZwgy5LJp8 unsplash

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today unveiled the Government’s timetable for easing lockdown restrictions and reopening the economy. 

The roadmap consists of four key stages, of which each will be subject to a series of conditions, including the continued success of the vaccine rollout, evidence that the vaccine is reducing hospitalisation rates, and a continued decline in infection rates. Assuming the conditions are satisfied, the reopening will begin in with Stage 1 in early March before concluding in June with the reopening of nightclubs and larger events.

The process is set to begin with the opening of schools on March 8. This long-awaited milestone will be followed by the resumption of non-local travel and some outdoor sports on March 29.

The subsequent stages of the reopening will spaced-out five weeks apart, in order to give the Government sufficient data to assess the impact of the relaxation.

When will retail reopen?

The second stage of the process will see the return of indoor leisure, including gyms, for individual use. Crucially, this will be accompanied by the reopening of all retail businesses across the country. 

In addition, hospitality businesses will be able to resume outdoor service. In much the same way as last summer, the rule of six will apply, meaning that as many as six people from up to two households will be able to meet outdoors. Of equal significance is the fact that hospitality businesses will not be required to serve a “substantial mean” in order to reopen and accommodate guests.

When will hospitality resume indoors? 

Indoor hospitality will be able to resume from May 17 at the earliest as part of stage 3, where all but the most high-risk sectors will begin to reopen. This will extend to indoor entertainment and attractions, as well as overnight stays in hotels. Related to this, most “significant life events”, including weddings and christenings, will be permitted to take place with up to 30 guests. 

Importantly, indoor hospitality will be limited to table service. However, at this stage, the Government will further ease the restrictions on social contact, allowing for more personal discretion. 

When will all COVID restrictions be lifted?

Provided the conditions are satisfied, we could see an end to all COVID restrictions on June 21 as part of stage 4. This final step in the relaxation process would involve the return of nightclubs and larger social events. Crucially, there would be no legal limits on social contact whatsoever. 

What support will be provided to retail and hospitality businesses? 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will announce additional COVID-19 economic support in the budget on March 3. The Government has said that as COVID restrictions begin to ease, it will tailor its support to affected industries and businesses.

For more business advice and guidance on how to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, please visit our COVID resource page.