With the second wave of COVID-19, a second wave of lockdowns is also rolling across Europe. Several countries close non-essential stores. Here’s an overview of the lockdowns and their impact on retail in Europe.
In the middle of last week, Germany went into a partial lockdown for five weeks, with the closure of all restaurants, cafés and culture houses. Stores remain open, but with a limit of one customer per ten square metres.
Starting Monday 2 November, all non-esssential stores remain closed for six weeks, as well as restaurants and cafés. Nevertheless there are some exceptions: pharmacies, newsagents, book stores, pet food stores, DIY stores, garden centres, fabric stores and retailers selling stationery can remain open. However, these retailers are not allowed to sell non-essential products. So hypermarkets need to close their fashion, electronics and toy departments, for example, while DIY chains cannot sell furniture and garden centers have to remove Christmas decoration products. All retailers are allowed to offer click & collect services.
Although President Macron does not want the economy to come to a complete standstill, the lockdown has also been declared in France. The measures will apply until 1 December. Non-essential shops and restaurants must be closed, government decided. However, in a country with many hypermarkets – which sell almost every other product category in addition to food – there was immediate protest. On Sunday, Prime Minister Castex therefore announced that he would follow the Belgian example and also ban the sale of non-essential products in supermarkets. If the situation seems to be under control in a fortnight’ time, France is considering reopening some stores, especially in view of the important end-of-year purchases.
A local approach with high risk and supervised areas should prevent a general lockdown. Where the number of infections peaks, sports buildings, restaurants and cultural centres must be closed. Stores should nevertheless remain open and there is no restriction on movement.
The (self-proclaimed) strictest lockdown in Europe can be found in Ireland: since 19 October, there has been a six-week tightening up of measures, which also restricts people’s freedom of movement. People are being asked to stay within five kilometres of their homes and out of each other’s homes. Non-essential stores will remain closed until December, and authorised stores will not be allowed to sell non-essential goods. However, minister English’s reaction in the press, that ‘clothes are not essential’ has caused a lot of hilarity in the country.
At the moment there is no lockdown, but Prime Minister Conte is in favour of local lockdowns in badly affected cities. One of the measures could be to keep shopping centres closed at weekends. Gymnasiums and cinemas are already closed all over the country and the bars and restaurants have to close at 6 pm.
A partial lockdown since mid-October means that stores in the Netherlands have to close at 8 pm at the latest. Only food stores are allowed to stay open for a longer period of time, although alcohol may no longer be sold or delivered after that hour. The hospitality industry is closed. Perhaps a full lockdown will not be necessary, Prime Minister Rutte said this weekend.
A lockdown will start on Tuesday until the end of November, during which, among other things, the hospitality industry be closed. Stores may still remain open.
Local lockdowns in Portugal will extend to a large part of the country on 4 November. Stores may remain open until 10 pm, but Prime Minister Costa asks the population to stay at home as much as possible in the 121 municipalities going into lockdown.
Local measures and lockdowns have been the order of the day in Spain for some time now. Nationally, a curfew has been set and a state of emergency has been declared. However, there has not yet been a national lockdown.
The country with the second highest number of Covid infections after Belgium has been in lockdown since 22 October until (at least) 3 November. Non-essential stores are closed and the population is no longer allowed to move freely.
Saturday, Prime Minister Johnson announced a long-awaited new lockdown in England. Non-essential stores will have to close for a month, hoping that this way the end of the year period will not fall (completely) into the water for retailers. Unlike in France and Belgium, supermarkets in England are allowed to sell non-essential goods.
Scotland is not in lockdown: the region now operates a five-tier system, with non-essential stores closing from the fourth level onwards. At present, however, no part of the territory has reached that level.
Wales, on the other hand, is in lockdown until 9 November. Non-essential stores are closed and food stores are currently not allowed to sell non-essential products. In addition to food products, only baby products (including clothing), household products (including batteries and light bulbs), food preparation aids (from cling film to pots and pans), stationery, newspapers/magazines and health and care products are considered essential. The government has already said that customers may ask for other products in exceptional circumstances.
Northern Ireland is in the middle of four weeks of lockdown. Stores are allowed to remain open, but no alcohol can be sold after 8 pm. Hospitality and contact professions such as hairdressers and beauticians have to stop their activities for four weeks.