Following the Government’s announcement that the UK is to enter a stay at home lockdown, it has been confirmed that health stores will be allowed to remain open as they are considered an essential service.
The news came following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night that no one should leave their homes, except for essential activities, which includes shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day and travelling to work if absolutely necessary. This is in place for a period of three weeks initially.
In guidance issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, it sets out that all retail outlets must close, apart from those that are exempt and can remain open. Among those on the exempt list, health stores are listed, along with the likes of pharmacies, supermarkets, newsagents and petrol stations.
And in further news, the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) has confirmed that after questioning the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, manufacturers and distributors of products being food will also be allowed to remain open as they have been identified as key sectors. In guidance issued to HFMA members, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said this the guidance includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Protecting industry from closure is an issue that the HFMA has been working hard to lobby Government on in recent days and week to offer health stores and businesses making and distributing products protection from closing.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, Graham Keen, Executive Director at the HFMA, told Health Food Business: “As you can imagine, at the HFMA we have been working hard to ensure that health food stores, and the chain that supplies them, are to remain open throughout the lockdown. So, I’m obviously particularly pleased that this has been achieved. This is clear recognition of the critical role our industry, and all of the companies within it that the HFMA represents, plays in helping maintain the nation’s good health in this very challenging situation.”
Also commenting was the National Association of Health Stores, which said in a statement: “Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation closing all non-essential shops in an effort to combat coronavirus, the Government has now confirmed that health food stores are included as ‘essential services’ and should remain open during the three-week lockdown to support your customers dietary and health food needs.
“We would like to thank all retailers who took the time to lobby their MPs to define health food stores as ‘an essential service’ and we must grab this opportunity with both hands to show that health food stores are a vital part of local communities and will pull out all the stops to assist their customers during an emergency. NAHS will continue to advise members with up to date coronavirus information going forward. To become a member contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Health Food Business approached the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and will continue to update this website with any further comment.