The Government has announced a series of measures to support the retail and leisure sectors when non-essential retail recommences, which is currently expected to be from the 12th April 2021. The changes, which were confirmed in a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) laid on 25th March 2021, provide the framework for allowing the continuation of the greater level of flexibility which has been introduced over the past year in respect of deliveries of essential goods to retailers, and for the construction industry to continue to operate over longer working hours. The WMS also included measures to support the recovery of town centres and high streets through allowing shops to open longer to enable customers to shop safely and avoid peak times.
Extension of Retail Trading Hours
The 25th March WMS confirmed that retail trading hours will be permitted between the hours of 7am and 10pm as the country enters the next stage of its ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. These changes will therefore apply from the date of ‘Step 2’ of the roadmap (currently scheduled for no earlier than 12th April 2021) until the introduction of ‘Step 4’ of the roadmap (currently scheduled for no earlier than 21st June 2021).
Extension of Flexible Delivery Hours
The 25th March WMS was also used to confirm an extension to measures set out in a previous WMS (13th March 2020) which permitted deliveries of food and other essential goods to take place outside of normal delivery hours, and to ‘ensure planning controls are not a barrier to food delivery over the period of disruption caused by the coronavirus’. The greater flexibility in delivery hours will also extend until the introduction of ‘Step 4’ of the roadmap (currently scheduled for no earlier than 21st June 2021).
Extension of Construction Industry Working Hours
Finally, the announcement confirmed that the temporary extensions to working hours for the construction industry which were announced in a separate WMS (13th May 2020) will continue until 30th September 2021, with this date being kept under review moving forward.
Welcome Back Fund
The announcements follow on from a separate announcement earlier in March 2021 of a ‘Welcome Back Fund’ to be provided to local planning authorities to help welcome visitors back to their town centres as the lockdown measures ease.
More details on the 25th March WMS can be found here:
More details on the Welcome Back Fund here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-raft-of-measures-to-prepare-our-high-streets-and-seaside-resorts-for-summer.
The Firstplan team would, as always, be happy to answer any questions you have on the latest announcements.