Guidance and support for high streets reopening on December 2nd

Published 30 November 2020
Last updated 30 November 2020

Local authorities, businesses and communities are focused on the safe reopening of high streets, particularly as all non-essential retail reopens and people return to festive shopping.

Starting Wednesday 2nd December, national coronavirus restrictions in England will be replaced with a local restriction tier system designed to help prevent growth in infection levels. There is a range of measures in place to provide reassurance to those visiting high streets from December 2nd, as well as new and updated information which supports those managing and using high streets to do so responsibly.

Below you can find guidance on reopening and links to further information, including tier restrictions, extended opening hours for retail, and government financial support.

Local restriction tiers

The experience and management of local high streets will depend on which of the 3 tiers of local restrictions they are placed into. For example, in tier 3, hospitality businesses must remain closed and operate take away and delivery services only. The tier will also affect whether you can meet others outside of your household on the high street or within local businesses and venues.

Working safely during Coronavirus – shops and branches

Guidance on working safely during Coronavirus has been updated for those who run or work in shops and branches. In addition to the 8 priority actions for all businesses, the guidance emphasises 5 more things to be aware of if you are operating a shop, store or branch that will help minimise transmission risk:

  • Ensure staff wear face coverings. By law, staff in retail settings must wear face coverings when in customer facing areas, unless they have an exemption

  • Reduce crowding. Consider how many people can be in the space while remaining socially distant. Use floor markings to manage queues

  • Help your staff maintain social distancing. Consider using barriers to separate staff and customers, introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working, and have staff work in the same team each day

  • Limit the handling of goods and clean stock regularly. Store items that have been returned, donated, or brought in for repair in a container or separate room for 48 hours or clean them before display

  • Communicate and train. Make sure all staff and customers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being used and updated.

It is essential that businesses conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment to support the successful identification and implementation of the other priorities. Find out how to do a risk assessment (GOV.UK)

Extended opening hours

To help spread demand across longer periods and ensure COVID-Secure measures can be safely implemented, retailers are able to open longer Monday to Saturday from Wednesday 2 December through to end of January. This will give shoppers the most flexibility and opportunity to enjoy Christmas shopping. It should be noted this makes no changes to current Sunday trading hours

The announcement from Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick states that ‘local planning authorities that they should take a positive approach when engaging with retailers who wish to extend their retail opening hours’.

If in doubt, you should consult your local authority on your plans for extended opening. A number of large national retailers have already announced their extended opening hours. You can find a summary of extended hours from the British Retail Consortium.

#EnjoyChristmasShopping – messages for consumers

It is important that visitors and shoppers receive the right messages and guidance to help them to enjoy their local high streets responsibly and safely. In addition to government guidance on local tier restrictions the British Retail Consortium has published a simple and short list of reminders to help #EnjoyChristmasShopping:

  • Cover your face and make space
  • Respect shop staff and other customers
  • Don't leave it all to the last minute to avoid disappointment, this includes online delivery
  • Try to avoid peak times where possible

High streets and shops will be Covid-secure and ready for Christmas, however ensuring that visitors receive these messages and including them into council and businesses’ communications is important.

Financial support

For businesses closed from 5 November to 2 December

During the period of national restrictions, businesses that have been forced to close from 5 November to 2 December are eligible for Local Restrictions Support Grant. You can check your eligibility via GOV.UK and you should contact your local authority for more information.

For businesses closed due to local restrictions from 2 December

The government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan makes clear that Local Restrictions Support Grants will continue, to support businesses in England that are forced to close (with up to £3,000 for each 28 day period). Businesses that have not been required to close but have been severely affected by restrictions in tier 2 or tier 3 areas, may also be eligible for grants worth up to £2,100 for each 28 day period, which are awarded at the discretion of Local Authorities.

Visit your local council’s website to find out more.

Full list of COVID-19 business support

You can find a full list of business support at GOV.UK, including support for employers and self-employed.

You can also complete the business support finder.