Coronavirus: Shop owner wants clarity over reopening

coronavirus shop owner wants clarity over reopening - Coronavirus: Shop owner wants clarity over reopening

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Media captionJustin Horton would like to know when he can reopen his Penarth shop

A businessman who owns children’s clothing shops in Wales and England has called for clarity from the Welsh Government over when he can reopen.

Justin Horton opened Funky Monkey in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, in 2015 and bought Chickadee in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in October.

All non-essential retailers in England can reopen from 15 June.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said any potential relaxation of lockdown would be announced on Friday.

Mr Horton estimates his businesses have lost “tens of thousands of pounds” since lockdown, with about 90% of normal revenue lost.

He said clarity on reopening in England allowed him to plan for new safety measures, train his staff and start making money again.

Meanwhile, it is unclear when high street shops will reopen in Wales, with one major retailer having no current plans and others ready to open some of their stores on a trial basis or all of them.

Image caption Funky Monkey in Penarth has been open for five years

Mr Horton said: “We understand the need for lockdown… but it’s been devastating for our business and I’m sure many businesses around the country.”

He said he had been “very pleased” to get clear guidance from the UK government about reopening in England.

“We know [reopening on 15 June] is not set in stone, but we were really pleased we had a target date.

“On the Welsh side, we’ve got no clarity at all. We just don’t know when we’re going to be reopening, so we’ve got no decisiveness from the government.

“We’d like to know an indicative date so we know we can start preparing, we can start training our staff into how to take protective measures.”

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Image caption Marks & Spencer opened some cafes for takeaway earlier this month

Wales’ current lockdown rules are set to be reviewed on Friday and First Minister Mark Drakeford suggested there could be “more things we are able to do” after that date.

But until an announcement is made, retailers are not able to make any definite plans.

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Image caption Shelves in stores such as Next are stocked ready for customers to return

Next, which has stores across Wales in places such as Wrexham, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and Bridgend, said it was “not currently planning to open any stores in Wales” on the same timescale as in England.

A spokesman said Welsh Government guidance has “prevented this from happening”, with the company awaiting updates from the devolved administrations in Cardiff and Edinburgh for its Welsh and Scottish stores.

A spokeswoman for John Lewis said: “With regards to reopening shops in Wales, we are working hard on a plan which would see some of our shops reopen on a trial basis, and only when these are running smoothly would we consider further store reopenings.

“However, we will only be able to put it into action once the Welsh Government has specified the dates on – and conditions within – which it is happy for retailers to begin to reopen.”

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Image caption M&S has already opened some food halls for takeaways

Marks & Spencer, which reopened some of its food halls for take-outs earlier this month, said it was well-placed to begin reopening stores when it got the green light.

“We’ve been successfully operating social distancing in our stores for some time and we will take our learning from this as we reopen our clothing business,” a spokeswoman added.

“Our 290 stores (UK-wide) that sell both clothing and food are led by a single manager – so it means they already have a brilliant working knowledge of the necessary hygiene measures, how to manage social distancing and the flow of our customers in and out of their store.”

A spokesman for the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff said it remained open for access to essential retailers.

He added: “The safety of our staff and guests is our number one priority and so we look forward to welcoming guests back to enjoy our full retail offering once it is safe to do so, in line with government advice.”

‘Right decisions’

The current three-week lockdown period in Wales ends on Thursday, with a “traffic light” system set to dictate how the country eases its way out of lockdown.

“We will continue to make decisions, which are right for Wales at the right time, using information and expert advice about how coronavirus is circulating here to keep us all safe,” a Welsh Government spokesman said.

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