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12 May 2020

No immediate end to lockdown: what do the exit plans mean for shopping, events and leisure?

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

The UK governments plans for the gradual easing of lockdown in England includes shops and nurseries partially reopening from June, some cafes and restaurants in July, and unlimited outdoor exercise from this Wednesday.

On Sunday 10 May, the UK government announced a plan to ease some aspects of the lockdown that have been in place in England since April to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The government is advising that you should wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and you come into contact with others you do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Importantly, we must all continue to practice safe social distancing whenever possible to do so.

That advice had already been recommended by the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The nations are taking different approaches to easing lockdown:


Shops that sell essentials will continue to be open with some non-essential shops opening from June at the earliest.

Restaurants and cafes will remain closed until July at the earliest.

Unlimited outdoor exercise and outdoor socialising within your household (from Wednesday 13 May).

You can meet one person from outside your household, outdoors only and remaining 2 meters apart at all times from Wednesday 13 May.

You can travel to and from work in England if you're unable to work from home - avoiding public transport where possible.


The advice from the Scottish Government remains to 'stay at home' other than for buying food, getting medicine or exercising.

You can exercise safely, close to your home and keeping a two-metre distance from non-family members, but you can't 'sunbathe or have picnics or barbecues'.


The Welsh Government decided to continue lockdown regulations until the next review period in three weeks' time. This means people are being asked to continue working from home if they're able to do so.

Unlimited outdoor exercise, but people must stay local and any exercise should start and end at home, and not involve going a significant distance from home.

From Tuesday 12 May

Large outdoor-based retail' like garden centres can reopen, but any catering must be on a takeaway only basis.

Groups of four to six people can meet outdoors, but must maintain social distancing

You can visit non-shielding family members indoors, but must maintain social distancing

'Drive through' church services allowed

Outdoor sports are permitted where social distancing is maintained, for example golf and tennis

Drive through cinemas can reopen

Article first published 23 March. Last updated 12 May.

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

    All high street shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, will remain closed until June at the earliest in England.

    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.

    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 will continue to be banned.

    Parks will remain open for exercise only. In England outdoor gatherings will be permitted between members of the same household.

    You can also meet one person from outside your household, outdoors only and remaining 2 meters apart at all times from Wednesday 13 May.

    Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

    Areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues will remain closed due to there being a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

    The government has also warned that anyone found to be in breach of the social distancing rules could face stricter fines.

    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.

    4. Quarantine for international arrivals

    The government will introduce new measures for international arrivals from 13 May

    • All international arrivals will need to supply their contact and accommodation information. They will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.
    • All international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government.

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