Prior to his televised speech to the nation on Tuesday evening (22 October), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new set of Coronavirus restrictions after the COVID-19 alert level in the UK was raised from three to four.
It will be obligatory for all retail staff to wear masks in stores from Thursday, still in addition to all customers wearing them too. Those who fail to stick to the new guidelines could be fined by the police – up to £200 in England, or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
COVID-secure guidelines will become a legal obligation for UK retail, leisure and tourism firms, with those who do not comply running the risk of fines of £10,000 or closure.
The PM said yesterday that the UK had reached a “perilous turning point” in its fight against COVID-19 and needed to “act now to avoid still graver consequences later on”.
He also warned that the measures could remain in place for as long as six months, saying: “For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives.”
Mr Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons: “I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We’re not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.” This will be a slight relief for electrical retailers up and down the country, following the turmoil of the lockdown period earlier this year.
Although retailers are pleased the government decided not to implement a “disastrous” national lockdown, they need to be prepared to adapt quickly in the coming weeks.
People in England have been advised to work from home “if possible” to reduce social mixing and slow the spread of the virus.
Another drop in commuters will be a fresh blow to retailers in city centre locations, which are already battling low footfall as a result of the absence of office workers and tourists.