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COVID-19: What is an essential shop?

COVID-19: What is an essential shop?

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 8:02pm 24th March 2020.

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), Currently Knaresborough and Ripon markets are open to food stalls only.

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


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

Many companies in Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale like Pret, Starbucks, Costa , McDonalds and KFC 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