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After sustained lobbying by retailers and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) to local MPs and government, the mobility retail sector has formally been included in the government’s “essential” business list.

Since the initial coronavirus outbreak in March, there has been a lack of clarity regarding the classification of businesses in the mobility sector. It led to many having to interpret the government’s guidance and apply it to their companies, with some choosing to close showrooms and others remaining open. Just prior to lockdown, 22.5 per cent of mobility retailers surveyed confirmed they were closing their showrooms during lockdown.

Now, after pressure from the industry, mobility retailers can be found on the official government guidance as a verified ‘essential’ business.

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The updated guidance groups mobility shops with other ‘essential’ health and medical services, including dental services, opticians, audiology services and osteopaths.

“This includes stores providing mobility/disabled support goods and services,” states the guidance.

As ‘essential’ businesses, it means mobility retailers are permitted to remain open, even if they operate from an outdoor market stall or at a defined concession within a shopping centre.

Coming late into the second lockdown, the announcement may come as little comfort for those that chose to close over the period. However, in the event of any subsequent lockdowns, retail leaders can be confident that the mobility sector will likely remain classed as ‘essential’.

Commenting on this classification, Simon Festing, CEO of the BHTA, said: “After continued efforts to have the industry recognised for the vital work it does, the BHTA is delighted that the UK Government has taken the action to add the mobility and assistive technology sectors to its official ‘essential’ list of businesses.

“The addition will provide clarity to retailers, suppliers and installers in the sector, especially in the event of another lockdown. It also acknowledges the important role these sectors play in helping to keep vulnerable people safe and independent during these uncertain times.

“We continue to encourage all companies in the industry to remain COVID-secure and keep operating safely and ethically – as the sector has done since the initial outbreak in March.”

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