Popular retailers including John Lewis, JD Sports and Topshop have all paused click-and-collect services across the UK to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
This comes as Scotland bans click-and-collect for all but essential retailers.
Under current lockdown rules, everyone in the UK now has to stay at home other than for essential reasons such as exercise and shopping for food.
Here, Which? explains the current rules in more detail, and reveals which types of shops can and can’t open where you are.
Shops suspending click-and-collect
In Scotland, click-and-collect is only allowed for ‘essential’ retailers – find out more here.
Though it is still permitted for non-essential shops elsewhere, some chains have taken the decision themselves to stop offering click-and-collect.
According to Retail Gazette, the list now includes FatFace, JD Sports, John Lewis, Joules and Topshop.
Find out more: Topshop owner Arcadia goes into administration
England’s latest lockdown rules
England is currently under its third national lockdown, with measures very close to those that were in place under the first lockdown in March 2020.
This means that you can only leave your home for ‘essential’ reasons, such as shopping for food, working if you absolutely can’t do so from home, or attending medical appointments. Outdoor exercise is still permitted, but only once per day, and no socialising with other households is allowed.
Primary and secondary schools will be closed throughout the lockdown, only staying open for key workers’ children and those deemed vulnerable.
Nurseries and early years childcare are allowed to remain open.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that these restrictions are likely to last until at least mid-February.
You can find the full details of the rules on the government’s national lockdown page.
Scotland’s COVID-19 restrictions
All of mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye is also under national lockdown measures at the moment, with just a few islands still in Level 3.
Everyone in locked-down areas has been told to stay at home other than for essential purposes, most businesses are closed and schools will not reopen until February.
The Scottish government’s full lockdown guidelines can be found here.
What are the rules in Wales?
Since 28 December, all of Wales has been at alert Level 4, which equates to a full lockdown with a ‘stay at home’ instruction to boot. This means that you should only leave your house for essential reasons such as shopping for food and exercise.
Non-essential retail, hospitality, entertainment venues and leisure facilities must close, and you’re not allowed to meet anyone from outside your household outdoors or indoors.
Northern Ireland’s current lockdown explained
Since 26 December, Northern Ireland has been under a strict lockdown, with people asked to stay at home other than for essential purposes.
Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and close-contact service businesses are closed. This includes homeware stores and garden centres, despite having been deemed ‘essential’ in previous lockdowns.
You can find Northern Ireland’s full lockdown rules here.
What counts as ‘essential’ retail?
Throughout the UK, only those retailers classed as ‘essential’ are currently allowed to open – but what exactly does this mean?
These types of shops are classed as essential in every UK nation:
- Agricultural supplies shops and livestock markets
- Banks and building societies
- Bicycle shops
- Building supply merchants and tool suppliers (sometimes listed as hardware stores)
- Car parks
- Car repair and MOT services
- Doctors’ surgeries, dentists, opticians, chiropractors, and other medical and mental health services
- Food and drink retailers, including supermarkets, off-licences, convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents
- Funeral directors
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Outdoor markets
- Petrol stations
- Post Offices
- Public toilets
- Storage facilities and drop off points
- Vehicle-hire businesses
- Vets surgeries
- Garden centres
In Wales, supermarkets must cordon off sections exclusively selling non-essential items, meaning products you wouldn’t find at one of the places listed above.
Scotland’s non-essential click-and-collect ban still allows the service from garden centres, and shops selling books, clothing and electricals, even though these types of stores cannot offer in-person browsing.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that the furlough scheme, which was previously set to end on 31 October, will continue until April 2021 to provide support for businesses that have to close.
- Find out more: coronavirus job retention scheme extended into 2021
What about travel and holidays?
Under the current lockdown rules, you can only travel for essential reasons – and these don’t include a holiday.
Even where people are legally allowed to travel, the government is asking them to think carefully about the journeys they take and the people they meet.
On top of this, it’s currently difficult to leave and return to the UK.
Many countries have banned incoming travellers from the UK due to the new variant present here.
And the UK has now closed all its ‘travel corridors’, meaning you need a negative COVID-19 test to be allowed into the UK, and have to quarantine when you return home.
All of this means that you should be offered a refund if your flight is cancelled or hotel is closed. But if your flight goes ahead, you may not be able to get your money back.
While many insurers now offer ‘coronavirus cancellation cover’, this often only covers you if you or someone you’re travelling with catches the virus. Only a handful of insurers will cover you for cancelling due to a new lockdown.
- Find out more: travel corridor removal: what it means for you
This story was first published on 23 June 2020 and has been updated. The latest update was on 18 January to reflect the latest lockdown rules.