11 December 2020 Business and economy

Safer shopping for Christmas and New Year

Retailers across the city can open for longer to support a safe return to the high street for shoppers and businesses in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

The government has announced that shops with restrictions on their opening hours from Monday to Saturday should have the option to extend them for the rest of December and January.

This will give people the opportunity to buy gifts and food supplies for their family and friends in a safe environment during the busy festive period. 

Allowing longer opening hours will make shopping in a socially distanced way easier by giving people greater flexibility to choose when they shop and avoid peak times.

Although most restrictions on shop opening hours were removed in 1994, many retailers are subject to local controls through planning conditions.

These restrict opening times, particularly in the early morning, evening and at night. Conditions are put in place to make developments acceptable to residents and minimise potential impacts such as noise.

Keep safe while shopping

City businesses have made strenuous efforts and investment to make their premises Covid secure for staff and consumers.

Having the option to extend their opening hours will support the measures to keep shops safe and manage social distancing. 

Councillor Leo Littman, chair of the city’s planning committee, said: “During this exceptional festive season, we will be taking a positive approach in our engagement with retailers, many of whom have had a uniquely challenging year. 

“We appreciate that longer opening hours may have an impact on some neighbouring residents, but this will only be temporary. We plan to be able to balance the needs of retailers and residents and help keep everybody safe during this busy time.  

“We are aware that extended opening hours can have an impact on staff working patterns. However, these are not covered by planning conditions. We also know that many of our city’s retailers have worked closely with their staff throughout the year to ensure good practices remain in place.

“As our city continues its efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, longer opening hours will help everyone stay safe by allowing shopping during quieter times, support jobs, and help our local shops survive in our high streets and neighbourhoods.”

Deliveries and licensing

A similar approach has been operating since March to enable shops to receive deliveries of goods and supplies at different times to keep shelves stocked with items (this is in place until 31 March 2021). 

Licensing restrictions remain in place. This means that businesses providing hot food and drink must close that part of the business by 11pm or secure a late-night refreshments licence from the council.

Restrictions on Sunday opening hours, which apply to larger stores, also remain in place. 

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