Shutting up shop
John Lewis and Pret join the big high street shutdown
John Lewis stores will close
UPDATED: 22 MARCH: Britain’s big shutdown began in earnest this weekend with major high street names closing their doors to fight the coronavirus.
John Lewis announced it had made the “difficult decision'” to temporarily close all 50 department stores at close of business on Monday.
It was followed by Pret A Manger shutting all 400 of its UK stores and coffee chain Starbucks closing about 1,000 outlets, despite both being allowed to remain open and sell takeaways under Boris Johnson’s lockdown plans. New Look announced that it had temporarily closed all of its UK stores at 5pm on Saturday. Fashion retailer Primark closed all 189 of its UK stores on Sunday. Other closure were announced by shoe chain Kurt Geiger, HMV and Patisserie Valerie.
Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero will become takeaway only for now.
John Lewis click & collect orders can be picked up at Waitrose supermarkets which remain open.
Topshop employees have been laid off after the Arcadia Group closed its 300 UK stores an hour before the government announced its coronavirus job retention plan.
TopShop: staff laid off (pic: Terry Murden)
In an unprecedented peacetime move the Prime Minister yesterday ordered all pubs, restaurants, clubs, gyms and cinemas and theatres to close.
Amid reports of some restaurants and cafes still serving customers sitting outside, police announced they would be on the alert to close any pubs or bars that refuse to comply with the shutdown.
A Marks & Spencer shop in Bristol, was among the first to call in police to help ensure older shoppers could use the hour set aside for them.
Asda and Aldi have hired a sports security firm, Showsec, to protect against panic buyers. More than 100 major stores across the UK have requested protection from customers who openly flout governmental advice to stop cramming their trollies.
Marks & Spencer is now dedicating the first hour on Tuesdays and Fridays to emergency workers and the first hour on Mondays and Thursdays will be dedicated to elderly and vulnerable customers.
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and the Scottish Retail Consortium are seeking assurances from the Scottish Government that retail and pharmaceutical workers are covered by the key worker provisions.
Also, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard, has asked the First Minister if postal staff should be classed as key workers during this coronavirus crisis – as they are in England.
“These workers are often the only people many will see or speak to on a daily basis. Similarly others in telecommunications provide critical connections as we adjust to home-working. Their role is key,” he said.
The latest developments come as the UK death toll from the virus has hit 233 after a further 53 people died in England alone. Scotland’s deaths jumped from six to seven, and the number of patients rose by 51 to 373.