Coronavirus: Advice on premises and businesses to close

Coronavirus, COVID-19, closed sign

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Does my business need to close?

Those businesses and premises that must close are detailed on the Gov.UK website here.

I am a retailer. Do I fall within the 'notable exceptions' categories?

If you do not fall within the notable exemptions, the government is asking for all retailers to close. The following are the 'notable exemptions' for retail:

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Medical services (such as dental surgeries, opticians and audiology clinics, physiotherapy clinics, chiropody and podiatry clinics, and other professional vocational medical services)
  • Pharmacies and chemists, including non-dispensing pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Bicycle shops
  • Hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire
  • Veterinary surgeries and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Corner shops and newsagents
  • Off-licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Post Offices
  • Vehicle rental services
  • Car garages and MOT services
  • Car parks 
  • High street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points
  • Public toilets

I am a retailer who falls within the notable exceptions. Will any conditions apply to me remaining open?

Yes, the following three conditions must be complied with for all retail and public premises which the government expect to remain open:

  • Ensure a distance of two metres between customers and shop assistants;
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded; and
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

Please also stay up to date with government advice - click here to go to the information hub at the website.

I am not on the list of business or premises that must remain closed, can I continue to operate?

If it is not possible to operate your business remotely, you may continue to remain open but you must continue to adhere to social distancing. Government advice on social distancing can be found here. Also see the answer to the question What other steps do I need to take to ensure I comply with the new regulations?” below.

What is regarded as a retailer?

There is no strict legal definition of retail. However, on the government website one of the FAQs is:

“Are you asking all businesses to close”

The answer is:

“No, we are only asking shops that sell non-essential goods to close. Other businesses can stay open, but all workers must work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so.

I am a retailer who has a shop but also an online presence. I do not fall within the category of notable exceptions. Do I have to close the shop and online business?

While you must close the shop premises, you can continue to trade online. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery services will run as normal.

I run a café/restaurant. Do I have to remain closed?

Planning regulation has been changed to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot or cold food takeaway may do so. The legislation can be accessed here.

Businesses are encouraged to take orders online or by telephone, and businesses should not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on. Ordering in advance is strongly encouraged to avoid waiting in a communal area, as per Public Health England guidelines.

What other steps do I need to take to ensure I comply with the new regulations?

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a two metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

COVID-19 Business impact reporting

The NFU is providing an information gathering service on behalf of the agricultural and horticultural industries across the UK to assist the government in building a dynamic and up-to-date picture of the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on farmers and growers.

By using this form, farmers and growers can provide information on any business-critical issues they have encountered, or expect to encounter, arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Click here to use the NFU's COVID-19 business impact service.

For further guidance on COVID-19 related topics, see the following links: