Dr Simon Festing BHTA
Dr Simon Festing, CEO of the British Healthcare Trades Association

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has released a statement providing clarity to its mobility retail members ahead of tomorrow’s national lockdown in England.

From the 5 November until 2 December 2020, England will be placed into a national lockdown, with similar restrictions imposed as those from the spring lockdown.

A key measure of the national lockdown will be the closure of ‘non-essential’ retailers’ stores, significantly impacting how goods are sold.

Recently, the government released update guidance stating that non-essential retail included clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, and market stalls selling non-essential goods. Under the guidance, these businesses can only operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services from their sites.

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The government also released a list of the businesses and venues which can remain open during lockdown, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines, including:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences
  • Petrol Stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
  • Funeral directors
  • Launderettes and dry cleaners
  • Medical and dental services
  • Vets and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Storage and distribution facilities

Similarly to the first lockdown, the guidance omits retailers in the mobility and access sector, leaving business owners uncertain whether their businesses are deemed as ‘essential’.

To provide clarity to its members, the BHTA has released a statement, championing the important role retailers in the industry play in ensuring vulnerable people’s safety and independence.

Simon Festing, CEO of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “The BHTA strongly supports the wish of many of our member companies to remain open for business as far as possible, whilst upholding COVID-guidelines.

“Many of the products that our members sell are essential to ensuring vulnerable people can remain safe and independent in their own homes, therefore reducing the pressure on our NHS and social services. It is the BHTA’s understanding that, as part of the health and care supply chain, equipment for disabled people and the elderly is considered to be ‘essential’ and, therefore, retailers are permitted to operate during the lockdown. This must be under the strictest of COVID-Secure measures to ensure the safety of staff and consumers, for example, by the use of appointments.”

Pointing out that winter is one of the most difficult periods for vulnerable people, the BHTA emphasised that it is vital that elderly and disabled people continue to have access to mobility and independent living solutions – particularly with the added pressures of lockdown keeping people in their homes for longer.

The BHTA confirmed it is currently seeking clarification from the government and will release any feedback that amends this position.


Are you a retailer in the mobility and access sector? If so, please take four minutes to complete THIIS’ lockdown state of play survey. The anonymous and aggregated results will be used to reveal the impact the lockdown has had on the sector. Fill it out here.

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