Non-essential shops can stay open until 10pm when rules relax, Govt announces

Non-essential businesses will be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week when they welcome back customers after months of closures, the Government has announced.

The move is designed to help shoppers return to the high street safely when lockdown measures are further eased on April 12.

Shops will be able to extend their opening hours from 7am to 10pm to help customers avoid peak times and ease transport pressures, according to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Under the government's roadmap for easing lockdown measures, non-essential retailers can open again from April 12 at the earliest, provided conditions are met.

Announcing the new temporary measures, Jenrick said: "To support businesses to reopen and recover, I've extended measures to allow shops to stay open for longer.

"This is part of a package of support to help reopen our shops and high streets safely – backed by £56m."

He went on: "This will provide a much-needed boost for many businesses – protecting jobs, reducing pressure on public transport and supporting people and communities to continue to visit their high streets safely and shop locally."

The Government has also announced it is extending flexible working hours on construction sites and will allow food deliveries to supermarkets over more time periods.

Other measures also include keeping the flexibility for pubs and restaurants to put up marquees to help increase seating capacity in a Covid-secure way.

Announcing the government roadmap in February, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said retailers will be able to trade again from April 12 at the earliest if Covid targets are met.

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Theme parks including Alton Towers and Drayton Manor could also reopen in England on this date.

Also included under step two of Boris Johnson's planned reopening of the country are hairdressers, nail salons and public buildings.

But Hancock issued a stark warning to the public, stating the date would be pushed back if Covid cases spiral again.

He said a further announcement on reopenings will be made on April 5.

If one step of the roadmap is delayed, subsequent steps will also be pushed back in order to maintain a five-week gap between the stages.

The government's four reopening rules are the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates.

Speaking at the time, Hancock said: "The reason for those dates is to give five weeks between steps so that we are going to see the effect of each step before making a decision after four weeks, with a week to go, as to whether we are able to take the next step.

"It's a cautious but, we hope, irreversible path, and the effectiveness of the vaccine gives me increased confidence that we are going to be able to walk down that road as set out in the roadmap and we can see that the vaccines are making people safe and saving lives."

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