A quick walk up a very silent Kensington Church Street to Notting Hill Gate on Wednesday afternoon, 25 May – with less traffic than on a Sunday morning at 5am – showed closed shops and restaurants everywhere. These notices sat on the windows of the restaurants Black & Blue, Da Maria and Ffiona’s.

Covid-19 and its fallouts:

A few shops still allowed to be open – not just those selling food

On Monday 23 May, the government issued new and stricter rules about social distancing and closure of shops and playgrounds. Media is mainly talking about food stores, pharmacies, banks and post offices being allowed to remain open, but there are number of other shops also allowed to remain open, among them bicycle shops, hardware stores, launderettes, dry cleaners and pet shops. In addition, restaurants and food-serving pubs may convert to takeaways and home delivery outlets.

Directly after the government’s announcement, it published a list of which premises may or may not be open, but several organisations, among them the British Veterinary Association and the British Dental Association, noticed that their practitioners weren’t mentioned, while others noticed several discrepancies in the list, so on Thursday 26 March the government issued the revised document Guidance: Closing certain businesses and venues.

Below is that new and revised list:

Food and drink

Restaurants and public houses, cafés and canteens, wine bars or other drinking establishments, or other food and drink establishments, including within hotels and members’ clubs, must be closed. However, food delivery and takeaway can remain operational and can be a new activity supported by the new permitted development right. This covers the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises. Also, cafés and canteens at hospitals, police stations, fire stations, care homes, schools, prisons and and military establishments may stay open, as well as services providing food or drink to the homeless. Where there are no practical alternatives, other workplace canteens can remain open to provide food for their staff and/or provide a space for breaks. However, where possible, staff should be encouraged to bring their own food, and distributors should move to takeaway. Measures should be taken to minimise the number of people in the canteen / break space at any one given time, for example by using a rota.


Hair, beauty and nail salons, as well as piercing and tattoo parlours, must remain closed, nor may they perform their service in customers’ homes or places of work.

All retail shops must be closed, except the following:

  • Supermarkets and other food shops
  • Medical services (such as dental surgeries, opticians and audiology clinics, physiotherapy clinics, chiropody and podiatry clinics, and other professional vocational medical services)
  • Pharmacies and chemists, including non-dispensing pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Bicycle shops
  • Hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire
  • Veterinary surgeries and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Corner shops and newsagents
  • Off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Post offices
  • Vehicle rental services
  • Car garages and MOT services
  • Car parks
  • High street banks, building societies, short-term loan providers, credit unions and cash points
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points where they are on the premises of any of the above businesses
  • Public toilets
  • Shopping centres may stay open, but only units of the types listed above may trade

The only market stalls allowed at outdoor and indoor markets are those offering essential retail, such as grocery and food.

All auction houses and car showrooms must be closed, without exceptions.

Hotels and campsites

Hotels, hostels, BnBs, campsites, boarding houses and commercial caravan parks or sites must be closed. However, people who live there permanently, or temporarily while their primary residence is unavailable, may continue to do so. Also, key workers, non-UK residents who are unable to travel to their country of residence during this period, people unable to move into a new home due to the current restrictions, and those attending a funeral and can’t return home the same day, may stay in hotels or similar.
Where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms for homeless and other vulnerable people on behalf of local authorities and other public bodies, they may remain open. Hotels are also allowed to host blood donation sessions.

Non-residential institutions

Regular libraries must be closed, but digital library services and those where orders are taken electronically, by telephone or by post (for example no-contact Home Library Services) may continue.

All community centres, youth centres and similar must be closed, unless they host essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks, homeless services and blood donation sessions. Public venues that host blood donation sessions can continue to open temporarily for these services only. A distance of two metres should be maintained as per Public Health England guidelines.

Churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship may not hold any traditional services, i.e. with congregation members present. This includes marriages and baptisms. However, funerals may be held in places of worship and in crematoria, where the congregation are members of the deceased’s household or close family. In a case where no members of the deceased’s household or family members are attending, friends can attend. A distance of two metres should be maintained between every household group, as per Public Health England guidelines. A minister of religion or worship leader may leave their home to travel to their place of worship. A place of worship may broadcast an act of worship, whether over the internet or otherwise. For the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public service, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions

Assembly and leisure

Cinemas, theatres and concert halls must be closed. However, small group performances for the purposes of live streaming over the internet could be permissible where Public Health England guidelines are observed and no audience attend the venue.

All museums, galleries, bingo halls, casinos, betting shops, spas, massage parlours, skating rinks, fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools, arcades and other indoor leisure centres, as well as bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar, must be closed – without exception.

Outdoor recreation

Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches, and outdoor gyms or similar must be closed. However, parks should otherwise continue be open for walks and exercise – but the social distancing rules must always be observed towards anyone not part of ones household. Spending time with non-household relatives and friends in parks and other public areas is not allowed. This includes eating meals together from takeaways or having picnics.

Special note about takeaway and delivery facilities

Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational.
This means people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers. Businesses are encouraged to take orders online or by telephone, and businesses should not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on, and customers may not consume food or drinks on site whilst waiting for takeaway food. Ordering in advance is strongly encouraged to avoid waiting in, as per Public Health England guidelines.

Planning regulation has been changed to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery and hot food takeaway to do so. The legislation can be accessed online.

A deserted Notting Hill Gate on Wednesday 25 May at 4pm. Normally, the street would be full of vehicles in both directions and the pavements would be teeming with people on their way to and from the tube station.

Calder Pharmacy on Notting Hill Gate was open, with staff in face masks…

…while Notting Hill Gate’s Leon had closed its restaurant part but could keep the takeaway side open.

Kensington Church Street’s only pet shop and launderette were both open, as the rules allow…

…and so were Sally Clarke’s delicatessen off Kensington Church Street, the kebab takeaway on Notting Hill Gate, and the corner store/off licence at the top of Kensington Church Street.

The farm shop Chegworth on Kensington Church Street was also open…

…but the doors to Kensington Church Streets’ famous Churchill Arms were locked, although all the flowers and flags remain.

Kensington Church Streets’ wine stores, one of them being Huntsworth Wine, were closed.

The Gate cinema had two large notices about the closure on its doors.

First published 26/03/2020