Coronavirus: Executive sets out plans for retail to reopen from June

News article

Northern Ireland Executive announces plans to ease lockdown restrictions for retail businesses

The Executive has signalled its intention to make a number of changes to the Coronavirus Regulations in the weeks ahead but has stressed that those would be conditional on the course of the epidemic.

Garden centres can open under the current regulations and the intention is to ease the restrictions in other retail settings which involve the use of outdoor space.

If the R number (the current COVID-19 transmission rate) remains at or below its current level of 0.9 in Northern Ireland, then a number of relaxations will be introduced for additional retail businesses.

Outdoor non-food retail

The following sectors / retail activities are provisionally able to open from Monday 8 June 2020:

  • new and used car retailers
  • retailers of light motor vehicles, lorries and trailers
  • retailers of caravans or motorhomes
  • retailers of agricultural or other large machinery

The above are those sectors that are mainly covered by SIC code 45.1.

Standard Industrial Classification codes (SIC codes) describe the nature of a business - you can access a full list of SIC codes on the GOV.UK website.

Retail with lower customer density

The next step in easing restrictions is based on managing risks based on the following considerations:

1) The size of outlets, with bigger outlets having more space creating the greater potential to manage social distancing for any given customer level.

2) The location of those larger size outlets, with standalone retail outlets and stores situated within retail parks (but not within the confines of a shopping centre) being considered as lower risk.

3) Sub-sectors that lend themselves to lower shopping densities (less frequency of purchases) and/or where they might typically have larger stores not situated in close proximity to other retail outlets.

The following sectors / retail activities that meet the criteria around standalone retail outlets and stores situated within retail parks (but not within the confines of a shopping centre) are provisionally able to open from 8 June 2020:

  • retail of electrical household appliances (SIC47.54)
  • retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software (SIC47.41) but excluding the retail of video games
  • retail sale of audio and video equipment (SIC47.43)
  • retail of telecommunications equipment (SIC47.42)
  • retail of household furniture and lighting and other household articles (SIC47.59/9)
  • retailers of carpets, rugs, curtains, wall and floor coverings (SIC47.53)

This will only apply where outlets have direct street access or direct access within a retail park.

Advice on workplace safety

For guidance and practical steps on how local employers and employees can keep themselves and their workplaces safe, see:

The Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has produced a risk assessment template showing the approach a business should take to keep a workplace safe and healthy. See the workplace risk assessment template for COVID-19.


First published 29 May 2020