All shops selling non-essential goods are to be closed immediately as the government imposes tougher controls to try to fight the coronavirus but stores selling essential items – including pet shops – can remain open.
Only a small group of retailers will be allowed to stay open. As well as pet shops, this includes pharmacies, newsagents, hardware stores, banks, post offices, petrol stations, retails shops in hospitals, launderettes. Vets and funeral homes will also be allowed to operate.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK-wide lockdown, including the closure of all ‘non-essential’ shops in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. Under the new measures, Brits will be able to travel out only for essential goods such as food, medical needs and brief exercise.
And the Government has issued guidance to those retailers remaining open, who must:
* 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
* Introduce queue control outside shops.
The British Independent Retailers Association – umbrella organisation of the Pet Product Retail Association – described the choice of ‘essential’ shops as ‘a logical list’.
Speaking after the measures were announced tonight, Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We understand the need to protect customers and employees from Covid19 and so more shop closures were inevitable.
“We have already seen many members make the decision before being told to do so. The list of those shops that can stay open is a logical list, except I would have included health stores which often perform an essential service to their community.
“It is now even more important for the details of the various support packages to be made available in detail and with transparency. We are still hearing about local authorities claiming not to know about the grants and the there is limited information on the employment protection grant.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of retail lobby group the British Retail Consortium, told the BBC many shops had already closed temporarily.
“Others have continued to provide essential products and services to their customers, both from physical stores and online.
“Any retailers that remain open will be following the very latest government public health guidance to ensure they do everything they can to ensure the safety of customers and staff.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight that the measures would cause disruption but save lives.
“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 have produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support both for workers and for business.”
Last week, a group of pet trade and welfare organisations, co-ordinated by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, wrote to the Government asking that pet shops be deemed ‘essential retailers’ and that pet food manufacturers should be included in the list of essential workers.