COVID-19: What is an essential shop?

COVID-19: What is an essential shop?

Published at 11:38am 24th March 2020. (Updated at 12:05pm 24th March 2020)

3 minute read

A handful of retailers are allowed to stay open under the tough new measures introduced by the PM to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

Under the new rules, all shops selling non-essential items, such as clothing, electronics must close.

Retailers can stay open for online orders and people can still have items delivered to their homes.

The Prime Minister explained in his address: 

"You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine  and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can."

Under the rules there are a few exceptions.


  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Post offices
  • Banks
  • Health shops
  • Petrol stations
  • Pet shops
  • Newsagents
  • Bicycle shops
  • Home and hardware shops
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Garages
  • Car rentals
Waitrose Nationwide Boots Sainsbury - Coronavirus  essential shopping shops (Mike Draper)
Supermarkets, banks and pharmacies are allowed to open.


Following the government's announcement yesterday (Mon 23 March), Salisbury Charter Market will be closed for the next 3 weeks. This includes both the Tuesday and Saturday markets. This is due to difficulties with 'social distancing'.

Individual market stalls, which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food can also still operate.

Salisbury Butcher in The Maltings
The Salisbury Butcher in the Maltings - you can see the tape on the floor to help customers stick to the 2 metres apart rule.


Under the new guidance from the government restaurants and cafes CAN offer delivery and takeaway services.

Greggs Maltings
Greggs in the Maltings is providing customers with takeaway options.

Many companies in Salisbury like Pret, Starbucks, Costa , McDonalds and the Swedish Den have taken the decision to close rather than offering a takeaway service to protect staff and customers.

Standalone takeaways can remain open.


Retail premises which open must:

  • Make sure there's a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; 
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not
  • crowded.
  • Control the queues.

You can read the full government guidance here


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