Anger and confusion has arisen today over new lockdown restrictions which mean garden centres and pet stores can stay open while other retail stores are being forced to close.
Thousands of chain and independent retailers have for a third time been ordered to shut their stores across England.
The new lockdown order, which follows on from national shutdowns in March and November, comes amid rising Covid infection and death figures across the country.
But some shop owners have bemoaned the harsh new restrictions, which will see all non-essential shops shut until at least mid-February.
While florists, clothes stores and book shops have all been deemed non-essential and now will be forced to close, those deemed essential, such as garden centres and pet stores, will be allowed to stay open.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
It means in some High Streets, such as Haslemere, Surrey, shoppers can buy toys for their dogs and cats, but not for their young children.
High Street shoppers can also take their dog to a groomer - for urgent welfare needs - but can't get a hair cut or enjoy grooming services for themselves.
It has sparked some shopkeepers to hit out at the 'inconsistency' of the rules, while others have dubbed them 'frustrating'.
Thousands of chain and independent retailers have for a third time been ordered to shut their stores across England amid rising Covid infection and death figures. Pictured: An empty Haslemere in Surrey today
Ian Rowley has been forced to adapt to a click and collect service at The Haslemere Bookshop, seven years after he took over, despite the fact that WHSmith were allowed to remain open just a few doors down
Australian national, Helen Dillon, 60, who runs the clothing store Davids, said the rules were 'bizarre'
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Shops in Haslemere in Surrey today had sale signs on their windows - for the usual January bonanza - but have been forced to shut due to Covid restrictions
One shop owner, who runs a clothes store in Haslemere, described the rules as 'bizarre'.
The Georgian Hotel (OPEN)
Vision express (OPEN)
The Haslemere Bookshop (OPEN - but closing)
Pizza Express - (CLOSED)
The Shoebox (CLOSED)
Marley flowers (CLOSED)
Brewers Decorators (OPEN)
The Swan Inn (CLOSED)
The Haslemere Pet Co (OPEN)
Henry Adam's (OPEN)
Magic Scissors (CLOSED)
D&A Hair Design (CLOSED)
Amazing Grace (CLOSED)
Collingwood Batchelor (CLOSED)
Liphook Valet Service (OPEN)
Warren Powell-Richards (OPEN)
Lloyd's Pharmacy (OPEN)
The White Horse (CLOSED)
Raymond Reid Photo (CLOSED)
Australian national, Helen Dillon, 60, who runs the store Davids, said: 'Why are pet shops more essential than my clothes shop?
'Animals have to be fed but they can also get their food and toys in the supermarkets, it is bizarre.
'In fact, in a smaller business you can be more careful with covid and it does annoy me.
'We only brought the business in July 2019 and it's been a slippery slope ever since, we are expected to reopen if I can hang on by my fingernails.
'I was planning on having a massive sale at the end of January but it won't happen now because we are locked down again.'
However, one pet shop owner, said keeping his store open in lockdown has saved tax-payers money.
Owner of the Haslemere Pet Shop for 15 years, Ray Murphy, 50, said: 'We've been open throughout as an essential which keeps me occupied, saves the tax payer money and provides an essential service for those with pets and livestock who need to be fed.
'The difficulty is mostly when people come in with kids as they have to stay together to count as one but you have kids going around touching things, that's how the virus spreads.'
Meanwhile, Ian Rowley has been forced to adapt to a click and collect service at The Haslemere Bookshop, seven years after he took over, despite the fact that WHSmith were allowed to remain open just a few doors down.
He said: 'We have had to adapt dramatically since covid-19, we have had to become a virtual bookshop, offering a click and collect service. It has had a profound impact on the way we operate and how we work.
'This lockdown is just Groundhog Day, it's not really any different to other lockdowns.
'It's a bit odd that WHSmiths - who sell books - can stay open, but we cannot. We don't compete with online services like Amazon on price but on service and recommendations.
'On a positive note, for independents it has been much easier to adapt than chains because we can tell about something in the morning and then do it. Whereas, chain businesses along this high street can't make those decisions, it has to go through headquarters.'
Away from Haslemere, other shop owners have also raised concerns.
One barber shop chain owner, who runs sites in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, said the rules were 'frustrating'.
Dan Champion, who runs Champion Barbers, told MailOnline: 'You get things like pet shops and estate agents can stay open - and they can't even show people around, it's a bit weird.
'I also tried to buy a card the other day and I went to the independent card shop but it was closed, so I had to go to a supermarket.
'It was much busier than the card shop would have been
'And one of my staff members told me the other day that they went shopping and saw lots of older people at an open air market, surely that's got to be a risk?'
The 45-year-old father-of-two, who has run his business for the last eight years, said the third lockdown was 'difficult' for him and his staff, many of whom are self-employed.
He said: 'In some ways it is good because where we had different shops in different counties we had different rules, but it's hard for our staff.
'I had to let a few go earlier this year because of social distancing. I had seven at one of my shops but I had to cut that back to three to allow social distancing between the chairs.
Owner of the Haslemere Pet Shop for 15 years, Ray Murphy, 50, said his store being opened saved tax-payers money
He told MailOnline: 'We've been open throughout as an essential which keeps me occupied, saves the tax payer money and provides an essential service for those with pets and livestock who need to be fed.
'My biggest worry is at the end of all of this. I've taken some of the Bounce Back loans but when I have to pay them back I'm going to have debts, no savings and possibly higher taxes.'
Faye Louise, who runs the Forest Pet Supplies store in Ringwood, says she feels lucky to be able to remain open, and doesn't agree with the division of essential and non-essential shops
The mother-of-one told MailOnline: 'The rules are just so complicated.
'It's so wrong that you can buy a coat for your dog but not for your child.Obviously you can still buy online, but it's still wrong. They don't think about children's special needs.
'I think it's unfair that some places should be allowed to stay open when others can't. If pet stores are essential, why not kids' clothing shops?'
However the 27-year-old, from Ringwood, said she believed the lockdown was 'definitely needed'.
She added: 'We are very lucky that we've been able to stay open and are deemed essential, as others aren't so lucky.'
Wendy Lowen, who visited the store to buy food for her Jack Russell, agreed that what is deemed essential varies from person to person.
Across the road from Forest Pet Supplies is Patricia's Florist, which has had to adapt its business model to only accept orders by phone and click & collect despite garden centres being able to remain open.
Owner Patricia Taylor said: 'We have been mainly operating by click and collect since the first lockdown, but it's confusing as people are told they can come to collect flowers but are also told to stay at home.
Faye Louise (pictured), who runs the Forest Pet Supplies store in Ringwood, says she feels lucky to be able to remain open, and doesn't agree with the division of essential and non-essential shops
Across the road from Forest Pet Supplies is Patricia's Florist (pictured: Owner Patricia Taylor), which has had to adapt its business model to only accept orders by phone and click & collect despite garden centres being able to remain open.
'I don't think it's fair that garden centres can stay open.
'My customers still want to visit the shop, and I've had to furlough some staff members because we can't stay open.
'Even before the lockdown was announced last night our doors were shut, and all throughout Christmas the doors were shut.
Wendy Lowen, who visited the store to buy food for her Jack Russell, agreed that what is deemed essential varies from person to person
'It's difficult because we're deemed non-essential but the wine shop next door is still allowed to open for collection and delivery.
'Does that mean wine is deemed essential? The rules are all very odd.'
It comes as hundreds of thousands of non-essential retailers were told they will have to keep their doors closed under England's third nation-wide lockdown.
The government's decision to let garden centres remain open while other retailers close has angered some bosses and shop workers.
Hotels must also close during this lockdown and guests must leave unless they are permanently resident at the premises or are unable to return home.
Boris Johnson last night told Britons that they would only be allowed to leave the house for permitted reasons - including 'to shop for essentials'.
And the government last night released guidance explaining which businesses are 'essential' after many stores controversially remained open during the November Tier 3 lockdown.
Essential retail includes food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences, the Government's official website states.
The less-obvious retailers allowed to trade in person include dry cleaners, outdoor botanical gardens and cattle or farm equipment auctions - while every other kind of auction must shut.
Those caught breaking the rules - including gyms who refuse to shut - can be slapped with a £200 fine.
This figure can double up to £6,400 for repeat offenders.
Scroll down for the full government guidance
Hundreds of thousands of non-essential retailers will have to keep their doors closed under England's third nation-wide lockdown
The new rules are slightly different to Tier 4 as archery and shooting ranges and outdoor riding centres were able to open under the highest tier - but must close under the new national lockdown.
All non-essential shops were able to open under Tier 3.
Other businesses allowed to remain open in the new lockdown include those providing repair services, petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, banks, post offices, short-term loan providers and funeral directors.
Non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (excluding rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods. (These venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect off-premises, and delivery services).
Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs (they can remain open for takeaway and delivery of food and non-alcoholic drinks).
Accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites,
Leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, sports courts,fitness and dance studios, riding arenas at riding centres, climbing walls, and golf courses.
Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, water parks and theme parks
Animal attractions (such as zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife reserves)
Indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, stately homes and landmarks - though outdoor grounds can stay open for exercise.
Personal care facilities such as hair, Beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. They can also not be done in private homes.
Community centres and halls.
Vets will stay open, as will animal rescue centres, animal groomers - for welfare and not aesthetic purposes - and boarding facilities.
Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas are all open as well.
Heritage sites that are outside will also remain open to the public - but only if they are used for 'exercise'.
Britons took to Twitter to share their confusion at why shops such as garden centres were considered essential.
Carole Bookless asked: 'Can you explain why a garden centre is classed as essential during this lockdown.
'No ones life depends on a garden centre being open.'
Emma Powell issued a stark warning to parents writing: 'My 14-year-old step daughter now goes to the garden centre because it's the new place to hang.
Mel added: 'You can even pop off to the garden centre.
'Because that is definitely essential shopping in the dead of winter.
Another furious Twitter user wrote: 'So Covid loves a crowd? If that's true then why for instance are garden centres still open?
'How are they essential retail? The garden centre demographic is Covid's favourite type of host. The mind boggles.
'Keep supermarkets open and shut everything else. It really is that simple.'
Other businesses forced to shut under the new lockdown include gyms, sparking fury online. They were previously able to operate in Tier 3 areas.
Tay said: 'Gyms, areas of safe exercise during dark and cold winters are closed when they jumped through all the hoops to open safely.
'Meanwhile I can walk into Tesco and be barged by hundreds of anti-maskers who, despite this pandemic, insist on touching every item. Make it make sense please.
'We need gyms in the winter to provide much-needed physical and mental health benefits for people such as myself.
'I've got zero space indoors to exercise and you are not getting me running in the dark, post-Covid in the cold.
'I cough up a lung when I exercise indoors.
'I get it, we're trying to alleviate pressure on the NHS.
'But we've also got to think about keeping people fit in the winter to help themselves to be able to survive these viruses.
Britons took to Twitter to share their confusion at why shops such as garden centres were considered essential
'Particularly as Covid seems to destroy those who are overweight and unfit.
'Those who can afford to be able to train in gyms should be allowed to.
'And there needs to be support given to those who can't afford gym memberships right now, whether that be through government-subsidised schemes or other such avenues which could also help gyms stay afloat.'
Others claim their business will not survive the latest lockdown.
Sara Bridgeman said: 'I nearly lost my business in the first lockdown. I followed the rules and claimed benefits.
'My husband died in May and since then I've concentrated on rebuilding my business. I'm not sure if I have the will to do it again.'
The lockdown will see more than 550,000 business closures in England, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.
The company said this included 401,690 non-essential shops, 64,537 pubs or restaurants, 20,703 personal care facilities and 7,051 gyms or leisure centres.
Other businesses forced to shut under the new lockdown include gyms, sparking fury online. They were previously able to operate in Tier 3 areas
Others claim their business will not survive the latest lockdown. Sara Bridgeman said: 'I nearly lost my business in the first lockdown. I followed the rules and claimed benefits. 'My husband died in May and since then I've concentrated on rebuilding my business. I'm not sure if I have the will to do it again'
Business leaders have reacted with despair to the fresh lockdown amid fears that companies may not last until the spring.
British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall yesterday said: 'Businesses will understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on the spiralling threat to public health, but they will be baffled and disappointed by the fact that he did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.
'The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland today are a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period.
'Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.
'Billions have already been spent helping good firms to survive this unprecedented crisis and to save jobs. These businesses must not be allowed to fail now, when the vaccine rollout provides light at the end of this long tunnel.
Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: 'The resurgence of the virus is aggravating the pain for businesses.
Clothes shops are non-essential retailers and will have to be closed for the next six weeks of lockdown
But supermarkets will be allowed to remain open for essential food shopping
'For companies in sectors like tourism and hospitality, the vaccine-led recovery still seems a long way off. Even for organisations that can operate remotely, the closure of schools and nurseries could cause significant staffing headaches.
'The Treasury must now bolster support for the worst affected sectors. In particular, it should seek to reinforce the discretionary grant scheme allocated through local authorities, which has helped to reach those who have fallen through the gaps.
'It will also be crucial to smooth the cliff-edge in support that's fast approaching in the spring.'
What you can and cannot do during the national lockdown: The government guidelines in full
You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse) attend education or childcare - for those eligible
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
Detailed guidance on the national lockdown
Who this guidance is for
This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection. If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.
Hands. Face. Space.
Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.
Remember - 'Hands. Face. Space.'hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.
When you can leave home
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a 'reasonable excuse'. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a 'reasonable excuse', and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
A 'reasonable excuse' includes:Work - you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance Volunteering - you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services. Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating. Education and childcare - You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children's activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles. Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child. Exercise - You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You