What shops are open during the second lockdown? The government's new rules explained

What shops are open during lockdown? These are the government's new rules for the November 2020 coronavirus lockdown .

closed sign on doorway, what time does lockdown start
(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

Wondering what shops you can still go to during lockdown? You're not the only one.

When the government announced their new rules on October 31 (including what shops are open during lockdown), it truly became a Halloween to remember. Having previously called the prospect of another lockdown in the UK, 'disastrous', Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the decision to take the country into a full lockdown again, as cases of coronavirus have reached crisis levels and the NHS risks being overwhelmed.

The news comes as there have now been officially one million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and the government's three tier system has failed to stem the spread of Covid-19, as it originally intended to. By employing localised lockdowns, the government aims to keep the economy and shops up and running in areas where there were fewer cases of the virus and only have 'very high' risk areas in self-isolation.

The new measures come into play on Thursday November 5 and will last at least until December 2 2020 - although there has been discussions around a January lockdown after Christmas. So while the early stages for the Pfizer vaccine are in full flow, we're set to be in lockdown for a little more time.

What's in store for us over the next month, as lockdown might be extended over Christmas and thousands more people begin to follow the UK self isolation rules? And what shops are still open during the lockdown?

What shops are open during the lockdown?

Garden centres, click-and-collect services from clothes shops and dry cleaners are just some of the shops still opening during the lockdown. In fact, many people have noticed that businesses and shops deemed 'non-essential' during the first lockdown have been allowed to stay open this time around. This is either because their risk of transmission is considered significantly lower than first thought or for a variety of reasons, they're now considered essential.

So here are your top questions, answered, about what shops are open during lockdown 2.o...

Is Boots open during lockdown 2?

Much like in the initial March lockdown, Boots is considered an essential shop as it operates a pharmacy - so it will stay open during the lockdown.

Those who normally pick up their prescriptions from Boots will still be allowed to do so, providing they aren't suffering with any of the symptoms of coronavirus. It's also still possible for a family member or friend to pick up a prescription on behalf of someone else, if they need to self-isolate or don't feel comfortable coming to the store. However, it's important to check the opening times of the local Boots pharmacy as due to coronavirus, these are expected to change.

For all other needs, Boots is also open and there are no restrictions on what you can and can't buy from the store.

Will dentists and doctors stay open during the second lockdown?

GP surgery advising new patients

Credit: Alamy

As with the first lockdown, public medical services like dentists and doctors (including GP surgeries) will stay open. Those surgeries utilised by the NHS will carry on with urgent and non-urgent services, as the government has emphasised the importance of those seeking medical help coming forward. It's also thought that opticians will stay open, as they are also considered an essential service.

Making non-Covid-related appointments and procedures a priority in this lockdown comes after recent data revealed the damaging impact of the last lockdown. It was reported by the Guardian that large numbers of people with suspected cancer were not referred to hospital and were not given tests during the first month of lockdown, prompting concerns about late diagnosis and the associated risks. But the pandemic also damaged people's mental health, with Mind charity reporting that more than one in five young people who did not experience mental health problems before the pandemic, were experiencing poor mental health during the lockdown under the restrictions.

So if appointments at the GP or dentists have been made, then it's important to attend. Especially if there are concerns around either physical or mental health during the next four weeks.

Are hotels closing in the new lockdown?

Hotels, hostels and other overnight accommodation is only available under limited restrictions as they are open, but only for work purposes and other exceptions.

As popular hotel chain Premier Inn wrote on Twitter, "We will only be able to accomodate guests who meet the eligible criteria for staying between 5 Nov - 2 Dec."

This is different to the last lockdown, where hotels and accommodation were completely closed and used for other purposes. It comes as one of the exceptions to this second lockdown is the the rules around travelling abroad during lockdown have changed, with overnight stays either internally or internationally, for the purposes of work only. It one of the ways that the government forsees keeping the country operating and supporting essential sectors and employers. As such, other major industries such as construction will also stay open.

Can cleaners work during the lockdown?

Under the government measures, cleaners can continue working and come into people's home. The guidelines say that exceptions to mixing outside your own household or support bubble include, "work in other people’s homes where necessary - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not - for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in an outdoor public place."

READ MORE: Is lockdown 2 working? What the stats show so far

This was not the case in the last lockdown, where stronger measures were in place to prevent household mixing that included a total ban on cleaners and other people entering households that weren't their own. That is not the case this time as cleaners, tradespeople and other essential people like childminders are allowed to work inside other's homes.

They should still try to adhere to social distancing measures where possible and wear a face mask, if they are not exempt, when social distancing can't be maintained.

Are florists open during the November lockdown?

florists - one of the businesses open during lockdown

Credit: Getty

While the government hasn't outlined the rules for florists in particular, it's believed that as they are a non-essential business, florists will be closed to all walk-in customers as of November 5.

The government has said that people can leave their homes for work purposes, "where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes)". According to the British Florist Association, this means that it's safe for florists to resume work behind closed doors but won't be able to welcome customers in the door.

They will still be open for taking orders, contactless deliveries and many will still offer a click-and-collect services so during the lockdown, you can contact your local florist to arrange an order.

Alternatively if you prefer, letterbox flowers are a popular way to send flowers and some indoor plants without the need for anyone to answer the door - perfect for lockdown! Bloom & Wild flowers are complete with free Next Day Delivery if you order by 10pm or right now, you can get 25% off letterbox flowers from Bunches.co.uk.

Are dry cleaners open in lockdown?

Even though they aren't largely considered essential, dry cleaners and laundrettes have been allowed to stay open during the second lockdown. While naturally it will differ from business to business, it's thought that dry cleaners have been allowed to stay open this time around because it's easy to keep the premises Covid-secure and maintain good social distancing in the shop.

Many of the businesses that have been allowed to stay open in the November lockdown, that were closed the first time around, have been allowed to stay open under these new guidelines of increased hygiene and social distancing practices.

Is Wilkos open during lockdown and can DIY stores stay open?

Father and son painting together - DIY stores are one business open during second lockdown

Credit: Getty

Wilkos will stay open during the second lockdown, as will most other DIY stores. They are considered an essential service as they help people maintain their homes, repair damages and many larger DIY stores also stock materials needed in the building trade.

Over the last lockdown, there was a huge boom in home improvement as stores like B&Q, Homebase, Toolstation and Wickes all stayed open.

Are garden centres open during the second lockdown?

Garden centres are open during the lockdown this time, as confirmed by the government and major centres such as Squires.

They were one of the first types of business to open after the first lockdown. As many garden centres mainly operate outdoors, it's easy to maintain social distancing and after more research on the coronavirus was conducted, scientists found that the virus doesn't spread so easily outdoors.

Gardeners are also allowed to continue working over the lockdown for similar reasons, as they work outside and so there's more chance of successful social distancing from those in the household.

Which shops will close during lockdown?

closed shops under the new government lockdown rules for the second lockdown in England

Credit: Alamy

The prime minister confirmed that all non-essential businesses have to close during the November lockdown, but this excludes supermarkets and grocery stores, pharmacies and in this case, garden centres as well.

The shops and businesses that will be closing include:

  • Pubs and bars
  • Restaurants and cafes (except for takeaway)
  • Clothing shops
  • Electrical stores
  • Vehicle showrooms
  • Travel agents
  • Betting shops
  • Auction houses
  • Tailors
  • Car washes
  • Tobacco and vape shops
  • Gyms
  • Swimming pools
  • Golf courses
  • Dance studios
  • Stables and riding centres
  • Soft play areas
  • Climbing walls and centres
  • Archery and shooting ranges
  • Water and theme parks.
  • Theatres and concert halls
  • Cinemas
  • Museums and galleries
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls
  • Bowling alleys
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Botanical gardens
  • Hair, beauty and nail salons
  • Tatto studios
  • Spas and massage parlours
  • Body and skin piercing services
  • Non-medical acupuncture
  • Tanning salons

The closure of these businesses is reminiscent of the situation earlier in the year, when only businesses that sold essential items or medical supplies were able to stay open. Garden centres, one of the first businesses to re-open after the first lockdown, this time won't be closing. This is likely because garden centres are mainly outdoor shops, where there is less chance of the virus spreading. But according to the government website, other non-essential businesses will be allowed to stay open for delivery services and click-and-collect.

Hotels, hostels and other overnight accommodation is only available for those who have to travel for work purposes and for other limited exceptions.

Any shops and businesses that remain open during the lockdown will have to stay Covid-secure with staff in full PPE and tight restrictions on numbers inside the store.

What are the government's lockdown rules for November?

stay at home order, what time does lockdown start

Credit: Alamy

Much like in March, the government's lockdown rules include the closure of non-essential businesses and severely restricted social mixing but in other ways, the rules are different from last time.

These are the government's new lockdown rules coming in on Thursday:

  • Pubs, bars and all other hospitality venues must close but takeaways and deliveries will be allowed.
  • All non-essential retail, such as clothes shops, must close.
  • Mixing households or support bubbles is prohibited, except for childcare.
  • Exercise (outdoors only) is allowed and you can go out with one other person outside of your household to do this.
  • Travel is restricted, including internal and outbound international travel but exceptions apply for work.
  • Staying at home is strongly advised, except for medical reasons, shopping for essentials, caring for others or for exercise.

Schools will not close and neither will colleges or universities. For those who cannot work from home and are not deemed 'key workers', the furlough scheme will be extended. The prime minister also confirmed on Twitter, "Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household, and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated."

At the press conference, Boris Johnson explained that the lockdown was "absolutely necessary" as the "overrunning of the NHS would be a medical and moral disaster beyond the raw loss of life."

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for womanandhome.com and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.