B&Q and Homebase shoppers flock to reopened stores as lockdown Brits start to venture out – The Sun

B&Q and Homebase shoppers today flocked to reopened stores as Brits started to venture out during lockdown.

Hardware stores have been labelled "essential" during the coronavirus crisis with B&Q reopening half of its stores across the UK.

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And shoppers today donned protective gear including face masks and gloves as they headed to the hardware stores on the weekend.

Long queues of people socially distancing were seen outside B&Q in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, while DIYers headed to another store in Cricklewood in North London.

Some were seen buying plants and other hardware while others were seen buying home spas.

B&Q is limiting the number of customers in the stores at any one time, and has installed screens at checkouts and floor markers to help social distancing.

Matt Hancock this week announced businesses which have re-opened after shutting down over the coronavirus crisis were "never required" to close.

The Health Secretary welcomed the move by firms to get people back to work amid signs Brits are growing tired of the shutdown.

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Hancock said companies were never required to shut down – so long as they could operate with adequate social-distancing.

He said: "The things that are restarting are things that we never required to close in the first place, but what the companies have been doing is working out how they can have safe working following the social distancing rules whilst people are at work.

"Throughout we've allowed hardware stores to stay open, and the construction industry, but what businesses have been doing is taking the last couple of weeks to work out 'ok how do you stay open and stay within the social-distancing rules at work?'

"So it's absolutely fine for those businesses to stay open because they were never required to close by the social-distancing rules."

Government officials are still trying to thrash out how such a system would work as plans begin to be drawn up about how to ease the lockdown.

Pictures have emerged this week of growing numbers of people heading outside, with road traffic up 10 per cent.

Britain entered the coronavirus lockdown on March 24, and some European nations are beginning to ease measures.

But authorities have warned some of the restrictions were likely to remain in place for much of the year.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the only "exit" from lockdown will be a vaccine or drugs to treat coronavirus.

Initially, B&Q had offered an online-only service to help protect staff and customers, meaning shoppers could only choose between home delivery and click and collect.

However, after monitoring other stores' social distancing measures, the hardware chain initially reopened 14 branches on the weekend of April 18/19.

A further 61 branches reopened on April 22, with an additional 80 stores opening on April 23.

This takes the total number of open B&Q stores to 155 – you can find the list of open branches here.

These stores are open from 8am until 5pm, although times may vary between branches.

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For click and collect options, B&Q opened safe spaces outside closed stores for the public to collect their items.

It comes after B&Q workers expressed anger over being forced to "risk their health so customers could buy garden furniture".

Graham Bell, B&Q's chief executive said: "We urge customers to follow all the government’s social distancing guidelines and to shop responsibly for essential needs only.

"The safety of our customers and colleagues remains our top priority."

In other shopping news, John Lewis has shut all of its 50 shops.

While Ikea also closed its UK shops because of the virus outbreak.

And McDonald's has closed all 1,350 restaurants in the UK and Ireland.


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