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Coronavirus: what does the lockdown mean for the high street, events and my consumer rights?

What will be open, closed or cancelled? What does it mean for my rights as a consumer?

Coronavirus: what does the lockdown mean for the high street, events and my consumer rights?

The UK government has announced far reaching measures to limit peoples movements, which includes shopping only for basic goods and a ban on gatherings, to fight the spread of coronavirus.

From Monday 23 March, people in the UK are only allowed to leave their homes for ‘very limited purposes’:

  • shopping for basic necessities
  • one form of outdoor exercise a day
  • medical needs
  • to travel to and from work when ‘absolutely necessary’.

The restrictions will be kept ‘under constant review’ and will be checked again in three weeks. With the government promising that it will be relaxed ‘if the evidence shows we are able to’.

UK coronavirus lockdown: What is open or closed?

During the coronavirus crisis, Which? is making a range of news, advice and guides available to anyone who needs it at which.co.uk/coronavirus.

Here, you’ll find some essential advice for what some of the governments restrictions mean for you as a consumer.


1. Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine

You’re advised to do it ‘as little as you can’. All shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close.

The government has clarified that non-essential means shops that are not essential to the response to coronavirus, or ensuring key public services keep running, or to support people to stay at home.

For example, non-essential retail includes stores where many of the products can be ordered online and delivered directly to people’s homes, such as clothing, furniture and department stores. This does not include supermarkets. Online shopping and deliveries will continue.

Hair, beauty and nail salons, electronics shops, and outdoor and indoor markets are also expected to close.

Retailers that will be allowed to stay open include:*

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Market stalls that offer essential retail, such as grocery and food
  • Health shops
  • Food delivery and takeaways
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Newsagents and Off-licenses
  • Bicycle shops
  • Home and hardware stores
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Garages
  • Car rentals
  • Pet shops and vets
  • Post Offices
  • Banks

Further reading: 

*list is subject to change.

2. Public gatherings, events and outdoor spaces

All social events, including concerts, weddings and baptisms are banned.

Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed. Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches, and outdoor gyms will be required to close.

Funerals following the social distancing guidance can continue. Places of worship can remain open for solitary prayer.

3. Medical needs and caring for the vulnerable

Older and more vulnerable people are at greater risk of serious health problems from coronavirus and it’s important that they can still get the help they need.

Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.

The British Dental Association has advised dentists that they should close their doors for all but emergency cases.

We will update this story with more information as we get it.

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