Bike Shops Classed as ‘Essential Service’, May Remain Open

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What do the new UK COVID-19 restrictions mean for bike shops? Yes, they can be open, but can we actually go to them?!

When the UK Government issued strict new ‘lockdown’ or ‘stay at home’ rules last night, it specifically allowed for a single instance of outdoor exercise per day, and included cycling as an example of what that exercise might look like. In addition, ‘Bike Shops’ are included in the list of exemptions that apply to essential retail outlets, meaning they can still remain open, along with outlets like supermarkets, chemists, and garages. However, it’s not currently clear under what circumstances going to a bike shop would count as ‘Shopping for basic necessities’ and therefor mean you could leave your home.

Park Tools Workshop Refit
Lots of things to touch in a workshop, lots of things to clean.

The COVID-19 restrictions state:

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

Further down the rules for COVID-19 restrictions, provision is made for closing a range of businesses – adding to the pubs and cafes already closed last week. There’s a detailed appendix of closures to the documentation, and is here that bike shops are listed as a being exempt from the requirement to close, due to them being an ‘essential service’. In fact, as we write, there’s a proofing error and ‘bicycle shops’ are listed twice!

Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including nondispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks.

Clearly this is an unprecedented situation, and the government is amending and clarifying the guidance. We’ve already noticed it being updated overnight to include provision for children who live between separated parents, we’d expect to see provision for things like people already committed to house purchases within the coming weeks, or for elderly people who may need to move residence due to health or care plan issues. In the context of such enormous challenges, when you’re allowed to go to your bike shop is probably a little ways down the list of issues, so we’ll be patient. It’s just good to see cycling recognised as being an important part of a functioning society.

If you do go to your local bike shop, please respect whatever restrictions they have put in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Current guidance for places which remain open is as follows:

Retail and public premises which we expect to remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.
  • Queue control is required outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

We’d recommend phoning ahead and asking how they’d like you to conduct your business with them. Equally, if it doesn’t sound like they’re taking things seriously, do you want to go there?

Remember, they’re allowed to stay open, but they don’t have to stay open. If staff feel they’re at too great a risk of infection, or if they feel they’re risking spreading it between customers, they’ll likely close.

We urge you to follow the restrictions, make the most of your daily opportunity for exercise, but do so safely and responsibly.

Comments (2)

    They’re essential, as every person that goes by bike to work is one less on the tube or bus. And there’ll be a load of people digging bikes out from the back of the shed with rusted chains and flat tyres. And with so few cars about, it’s a lovely time to be commuting by bike.

    Am not in the UK, but we have similar restrictions in place, and we see the same thing regarding people digging out their bikes they have last touched 10 years ago…Are as busy as we would normally be in the spring time too. No shortage of service jobs.

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