In Brief

Coronavirus: which UK businesses will today close their doors?

Prime Minister announces that shops selling non-essential goods will have to be shut

All non-essential businesses will today close their doors as part of strict new curbs on life in the UK to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Boris Johnson announced last night that shops selling non-essential goods will have to be shut, while people may only leave home to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

Shopping trips should only be for basic necessities such as food and medicine, the prime minister said, and should be as infrequent as possible.

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Businesses that will not need to close under the new guidance include:

  • Restaurants, cafes and work canteens - but only for food delivery and takeaway services
  • Supermarkets and other premises selling food, including market stalls
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations, garages and car rental businesses
  • Bicycle shops
  • Home and hardware shops
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Pet shops
  • Corner shops, newsagents and post offices
  • Banks

Libraries, non-essential shops, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship have been told to close. Hotels, hostels, campsites and caravan parks must also close unless key workers need to stay there.

McDonald’s, Nando’s, Costa Coffee, sushi chain Itsu and sandwich company Subway closed their UK branches yesterday, ahead of Johnson’s annoucement. 

As McDonald's closed all 1,270 of its restaurants in the UK, Paul Pomroy, UK and Ireland CEO, said: “Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult.

“We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days. Thank you to our brilliant employees for their hard work during this incredibly challenging time. We look forward to seeing you all again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen.”

Nando’s followed suit, annoucing in a tweet that bosses had “decided that the best course of action right now is to temporarily close our restaurants”. The company added the health and safety of its 20,000 customers was its “highest priority”. 

Sports Direct, meanwhile, has said it will keep its stores open, arguing that it is “uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible”, according to the BBC

Claiming that it provided an essential service, bosses at the company said the sports equipment it sells can be used to exercise at home at a time when gyms have been closed.

Sky News reports that shoppers last week “shunned” the high street, with figures published by customer data company Springboard revealing a 21.7% collapse in visits to the shops. The collapse in footfall was three times higher than the worst ever recorded, the company said.

Visits to supermarkets, however, have rocketed, with an additional 15m trips undertaken in Britain in the week to March 17, according to market research group Kantar.

Average spend also increased by 16% to £22.13, Reuters reports, with supermarkets taking 51% of all retail sales.

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