As a relaxation in COVID-19 rules came into effect on Monday in England after a three-month lockdown, long queues were reported outside shops. Though all shops have been permitted to open in the country, retailers have put in place stringent safety measures.
Long queues formed outside Primark shops in Birmingham and London much before their opening time of 8 a.m. The fashion retailer chain does not provide online shopping options and customers can make purchases from its stores only. Much like other clothing shops, Primark has been closed since March 23.
Retailers Introduce Safety Measures
In Manchester, people waited for almost an hour for some shops. Big queues formed outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker. Retailers are required to introduce plastic screens at the tills and floor markings to keep shoppers two metres apart - -measures that are already a regular fixture in supermarkets.
Other measures will include pleas not to touch items unless customers intend to purchase them and decontaminating shopping baskets after each use.
Retailers are promising there will be plenty of sanitizer on hand for customers. Toilets will remain closed in Primark's shops but facilities in other stores, including John Lewis and Selfridges, will be open, BBC reported. Although food shops, pharmacies, banks, and other essential retailers have stayed open, vast swathes of the High Street, from bookshops to clothes outlets, have been closed since March 23.
Shops Selling Different Varieties of Products Reopen
Some other retailers selling products classed as essential - such as DIY, furniture and bicycles - have also been reopening. Furniture giant Ikea opened 19 of its stores across England and Northern Ireland recently, prompting long queues. Many stores are encouraging customers to make purchases by contact-less card payments.
London's West End, which includes Oxford Street, is expecting about 80 percent fewer visitors when it reopens on Monday. In Northern Ireland, non-essential shops reopened on June 5, but there is still no date for Wales and Scotland.
In England, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and cinemas will not be allowed to open their doors until July 4 at the earliest - and even then, only if they can meet social distancing measures.
(With inputs from agencies)