The Prime Minister has confirmed that non-essential shops in England, including electrical retailers, will be able to reopen on Monday April 12.
Outdoor hospitality, gyms, hairdressers, beauty salons, libraries and community centres will also be allowed to reopen on the same day, as the next step on the roadmap to easing the country out of COVID-19 lockdown.
Pubs and restaurants will only be allowed to have tables of a maximum of six people from two households outdoors at a time, with everyone needing to be seated.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Bank Holiday Monday, Boris Johnson confirmed that the next stage of ending the lockdown will go ahead, but he continued to urge caution – and reminded people that tough rules on socialising remain in place.
Mr Johnson said: "It is our collective efforts that have given us the crucial time and space to vaccinate more than 31 million people."
He added: "The net result of your efforts and the vaccine roll-out is that I can today confirm that from Monday 12th of April we will move to step two of our roadmap. Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.”
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Jackie Mulligan, a retail expert who sits on the High Streets Task Force and is a founder of local shopping platform, ShopAppy.com, said: “Monday 12 April is a hugely significant moment for every local trader and will feel like a liberation day for high street shops and the neighbourhoods that surround them.
“These businesses rely on people coming through the door and the sense of community that creates. While the easing of restrictions should increase footfall, businesses need to understand that people may still be cautious so offering online and offline interaction will be crucial.
“The positive sentiment towards localism we have seen over the past year can now be put into action, and I hope consumers vote with their feet for their high street.”
Shops in England will also allowed to stay open until 22:00 six days a week when customers return from 12 April, the Government has said.
After months of coronavirus-related closures, non-essential retailers will be able to apply to trade from 07:00 BST Monday to Saturday.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the move would help businesses to recover and customers to shop safely. He said councils will be asked to avoid "unnecessary restrictions" on hours.
Mr Jenrick described the initiative as “part of a package of support to help reopen our shops and high streets safely, backed by £56 million”.
He added: “This will provide a much-needed boost for many businesses – protecting jobs, reducing pressure on public transport and supporting people and communities to continue to visit their high streets safely and shop locally.”