Ongoing changes to local Covid-19 safety regulations for retail stores make it difficult to stay on top of things as the pandemic situation heats up again in most European countries. Here is an overview (as of March 25, subject to change and with regional variations) of the status of so-called “non-essential” retail.

Austria

A minimum distance of two meters must be maintained and an FFP2 mask is mandatory in all public spaces. All stores remain open with a restriction of one customer per 20 square meters. Possible opening hours are between 6:00-19:00.

Belgium

allows all stores to open on their usual days and times, avoiding queues in front of buildings and keeping a safety distance.

Denmark

opened stores on March 15 with strict regulations on the minimum distance between customers. Larger retail stores between 5,000 and 9,999 square meters can open for a maximum of 250 customers at a time.

France

Part of the country has been in lockdown since March 19, with non-essential stores closed and people only allowed to move within a 10 km radius of their homes. In the rest of the country, only non-food stores with more than 20,000 square meters have been closed as a precaution. Stores between 8 and 400 square meters can accommodate one customer per every 8 square meters of retail space. Larger stores require 10 square feet per customer. To avoid too much foot traffic and encourage commercial activity, the options for opening shops on Sundays have been expanded.

Germany

has just rolled back some opening possibilities and extended the lockdown rules for retail stores until April 18. For non-essential retail, the local incidence rate is the official determining factor for opening restrictions and must be below 100 for three days to allow “click and collect” and shopping by appointment. The situation varies widely locally and municipalities can create their own safety concepts for shops. There are also restrictions on the ratio of floor space to the number of customers. FFP2 masks are mandatory in all stores. As many German districts are already passed the critical incidence rate of 100 defined by the government, local non-essential store closures are on again and more can be expected. An announced complete lockdown (including essential stores) over the long Easter weekend for the entire country was revoked within 24 hours by Chancellor Merkel earlier this week.

Italy

has divided its regions and autonomous provinces into four zones – red, orange, yellow and white – corresponding to risk scenarios for which specific restrictive measures are foreseen. Since there are no white and yellow zones at the moment, most of Italy is either in a partial or total lockdown. Non-essential stores are open only in 11 orange zones. These stores and all restaurants stay closed in ten other regions, including the densely populated northern provinces of Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Trento and Friuli Venezia Giulia. All regulations are currently in effect until the beginning of April. The classification is based on ordinances issued by the Italian Ministry of Health.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands, a partial closure is in effect until the end of March. Non-essential stores are allowed to offer shopping by appointment and a click and collect service. In stores with a floor space of 50 square meters, retailers can offer appointment shopping to a maximum of two customers per floor and six customers per hour. Appointments must last at least 10 minutes. Since March 16, larger stores can allow one customer per 25 square meters, with a maximum of fifty people per time slot.

Spain

has varying restrictions decided locally by the country’s 17 provincial governments rather than the central government.

Sweden

has tightened its coronavirus policy in some places in recent months, partially abandoning the special path the country has taken in the early months of the pandemic. From March 6 and until April 11, retailers are subject to a maximum limit of 500 customers per store, each of whom must be given at least 10 square meters of space. Group shopping is also not allowed.

Switzerland

now only has regulations on hygiene concepts and the maximum number of customers within all types of stores, while restaurants are still closed. Masks are compulsory in all public places.

U.K.

In the U.K., a hard lockdown is in place until the end of March, with all non-essential retail outlets closed to customers. Delivery services can operate, pickup of online orders and repairs are allowed on an appointment basis. People can also leave their homes to pick up or return orders at these businesses.

Photo: © Wes Hicks on Unsplash