Shoppers could be seen queuing on the high streets on the day non-essential retail reopened across England.
The latest step in the government’s four-part plan to lift all legal limits by the summer sees the reopening of all non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and swimming pools.
It also sees the reopening of pub beer gardens.
But what about the rest of the UK? Let’s find out when Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shops reopen.
What were the rules for shops in lockdown?
All shops considered non-essential by the government were forced to close temporarily when England went into a third national lockdown.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on 4 January a series of measures to combat the spread of a new Covid variant which was threatening to overwhelm the NHS.
This included a ‘stay at home’ order and putting a ban on social gatherings amid rising infection rates and hospital admissions brought on by the deadly coronavirus.
Shops classed as non-essential include clothes, book, technology, and department stores, which have all experienced a disrupted and costly 12 months.
When did shops reopen in England?
Under the government’s roadmap out of a third national lockdown, non-essential shops and retail stores in England reopened on 12 April.
Mr Johnson announced on 22 February that all shops, gyms, hairdressers, libraries, swimming pools, pub beer gardens and outdoor restaurant seating will open from 12 April.
It is the second easing of lockdown measures after the schools reopening on 8 March and Rule of Six coming in from 29 March, but before cinemas and museums opening again on 17 May.
It is hoped a four-staged approach to gradually relaxing Covid enforced restrictions will lead to all legal limits placed on society being lifted by 21 June.
When do charity shops open?
All non-essential stores, including charity shops, will be allowed to reopen on 12 April.
What is the decision dependent on?
Mr Johnson said he will be guided by “data not dates” meaning plans might change if there is a change in the Covid situation and what is hoped will happen over the coming weeks.
A gradual easing of restrictions, with a five-week gap in between phases, will give the government ample time to assess the situation after each relaxation of rules, said Mr Johnson.
The timetable is based on four factors:
- the continued success of the vaccine rollout and flow of supplies
- vaccines continues to have a positive impact in reducing the number of people dying and admitted to hospital with Covid
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put pressure on the NHS
- any variants of concern highlighted do not fundamentally change government's assessment of the risks
What about the rest of the UK?
As all non-essential shops reopened on 12 April in England, the devolved nations that make up the United Kingdom have set out their own time frames for opening stores again.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that click and collect services will return alongside the reopening of garden centres and homeware stores from 5 April.
All other non-essential shops will be able to reopen from 26 April, it is hoped.
Leaders in Wales allowed garden centres to open again and supermarkets to reopen non-essential aisles from 22 March. All other shops reopened on 12 April.
Click and collect for garden centres and plant nurseries in Northern Ireland resumed from 1 April, with the rest of non-essential retail following on 12 April.