B&Q reopens stores and more businesses to follow
B&Q has reopened dozens of UK stores as lockdown measures remain in place. After a trial period, 61 shops, including those in Cardiff, Manchester and Aberdeen, have been allowed to reopen.
The DIY group said it has brought in “social distancing controls”, such as capping the number of customers in-store. On Thursday, other UK firms, such as Aston Martin and Taylor Wimpey, said they would return to work in May.
B&Q had been closed since the end of March after the government introduced lockdown measures to try to contain the spread of Covid-19.
However, hardware stores were included on the government’s list of essential retailers that were allowed to trade under the restrictions.
The DIY chain said on Saturday that 14 of its stores would reopen, followed by a further 61 sites announced on Wednesday. Customers had been able to place orders online and collect goods in the shops.
In the newly re-opened stores, perspex screens will be fitted to checkouts and two-metre floor markers will indicate the distance shoppers should maintain from each other.
The announcement also saw complaints that the retailer would be allowed to sell plants at its sites which have garden centres.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) recently told the BBC that millions of plants and shrubs might have to be binned as, unlike hardware firms, garden centres were deemed non-essential.
Return to production
UK manufacturers and housebuilders announced plans on Thursday to kickstart production during the lockdown.
Luxury carmaker Aston Martin said it would reopen its St Athan plant on 5 May after it had temporarily suspended all manufacturing operations in the UK at the end of March.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey also plans to restart work on most of its building sites across England and Wales in May.
Its staff will follow new safety guidelines, while subcontractor work will resume the following week.
Peter Redfern, Taylor Wimpey’s chief executive said: “In the period while our sites have been closed, trading has inevitably been impacted. However, we are still seeing continued demand for our homes and our sales teams have been selling homes remotely, and digitally, week to week.”
He added that the firm’s show homes and sales centres would remain closed, most likely until social distancing measures are relaxed.