Which small businesses can stay open in national lockdown?

Find out which small businesses can still stay open despite different national lockdown restrictions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Which small businesses can stay open during the national lockdown? Here is the partial list of what businesses can remain open with different rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Prime minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown for England on Monday, January 5.

This third national lockdown is expected to last until March 31 as the coronavirus vaccines are rolled out and the population becomes immunised.

Small businesses that must close in England

  • non-essential retail, including clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for 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
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and non-alcoholic drinks for takeaway (until 11pm)
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances
  • 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)
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes

Which small businesses that can stay open in England during lockdown?

  • essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
  • market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
  • businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
  • petrol stations, automatic car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • medical and dental services
  • vets and pet food product retailers


Scotland went into national lockdown on January 5. The regulations are expected to last for four weeks but will be kept under review.

Which small businesses can stay open in Scotland during lockdown?

  • food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • newsagents
  • building merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs
  • petrol stations
  • car repair and MOT services
  • bicycle shops
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody services, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • agricultural supplies shops and agricultural markets
  • storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this sub-paragraph


Wales went into Tier 4 national restrictions on December 20 and although the rules are reviewed every three weeks, it is expected the current level will be maintained until the end of January.

Small businesses that must close in Wales during lockdown

  • restaurants bars and public houses, including within hotels and members’ clubs
    cafés and canteens
  • non-essential retail with exceptions (see below). Supermarkets that have separate aisles selling clothing and homeware can stay open, but these areas will be closed
  • auction houses
  • car showrooms and dealerships
  • hair salons and barbers
  • estate or letting agents, developer sales offices and show homes
  • close-contact businesses such as spas and massage parlours, beauty therapists, make-up artists, nail service technicians, reflexologists, aesthetics, holistic, wellbeing and other practitioners, acupuncturists, massage therapists, tanning salons, tattooists, etc.
  • shopping centres, arcades and indoor or outdoor markets
  • accommodation including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites and boarding houses for commercial use
  • night-time leisure such as nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls, bingo halls, casinos and betting shops, sexual entertainment venues
  • gyms, indoor fitness studios

Which small businesses can stay open in Wales during lockdown?

  • food delivery and takeaway
  • food and drink shops
  • pharmacies and chemists, including non-dispensing pharmacies
  • petrol stations
  • bicycle shops
  • hardware shops, shops selling building supplies and equipment
  • plant and tool hire
  • veterinary surgeries and pet shops
  • newsagents
  • off-licences and licenced shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries
  • launderettes and dry cleaners
  • vehicle rental services
  • car garages and repair shops, including MOT services
  • agricultural or aquacultural supplies
  • livestock markets or auctions
  • Mobile phone or computer repair
  • Medical services (such as dental surgeries, opticians and audiology clinics, physiotherapy clinics, chiropody and podiatry clinics, and other professional vocational medical services)

Northern Ireland

Tighter lockdown regulations come into force on January 7 and will stay in place until at least February 6. People will only be allowed to leave home for medical needs, to buy food or to exercise. Those who cannot work from home will also be allowed to leave.

Which small businesses can stay open in Northern Ireland during lockdown?

  • non-essential retail including food retailers, supermarkets, convenience stores, off licences and newsagents
  • pharmacies and chemists
  • fuel suppliers
  • building supplies and hardware stores
  • bicycle shops
  • agricultural supplies shops and livestock markets
    motor vehicle repair shops
  • funeral directors
  • launderettes and dry cleaners
  • healthcare including dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services
  • veterinary surgeons, dog groomers and pet shops

Further reading

Small business national lockdown – what support is available?

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...