The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tough new measures to fight coronavirus last night, telling the public to stay home and ordering all retail businesses to close. A list of exceptions were made, which included bike shops (oddly they were included twice on the list) but some are not prepared to take the risk.
Bike shops are among the retailers permitted to continue trading in the revised information document from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. We'll presume adding bike shops twice was an error, but the exceptions are:
Supermarkets and other food shops
Home and hardware shops
Laundrettes and dry cleaners
I think it would be irresponsible to stay open as a bike shop as well. Closed my place for servicing as well as it’s just not worth the risk to me, my family or anyone else coming in.
— Magnus Backstedt (@Maggy_PR) March 23, 2020
Due to the need for social distance at this crucial time we sadly feel it is right to close the shop until the end of March. We are instead offering FREE HOME DELIVERY IN HACKNEY by bike or can post UK wide. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/eDgB5FHmyc
— Pages of Hackney (@pagesofhackney) March 16, 2020
With continuing concerns over the health of workers in supermarkets and the NHS - particularly those who were still reported to be packing onto public transport to get to work - not everyone agrees that it's wise to stay open even if the business is on the exemption list. 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Bäckstedt - who now owns Backstedt Bike Performance in Newport - claimed that it would be "irresponsible" to stay open in a tweet posted last night. Pages of Hackney also closed their doors on the 16th March "due to the need for social distance". Numerous shops are advertising that they will indeed stay open, however...
Bike shops have been designated as an essential service and are allowed to open, infact so essential they've put us on there twice. We are going down this afternoon to finalise plans and will be reopening, we will update later on once this is done pic.twitter.com/XLx4dVTUa9
— Picton Cycles (@PictonCycles) March 24, 2020
Earlier in the day, and prior to the Prime Minister’s statement and the subsequent confirmation of which retailers would be allowed to continue trading, the charity had set out its case for why bike shops should be considered essential and not be forced to close. Its head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said:
Cycling UK set out a case for bike shops to remain open as an essential service before last night's announcement, with Head of Campaigns Duncan Dollimore saying:
"Cycling those essential journeys rather than jumping on a bus or crowded tube allows people to comply with the social distancing guidance, but still complete those critical journeys.
"Bicycle shops play a key role in enabling people to do this, so Cycling UK would urge the Government to bear in mind the benefits of allowing bike shops to remain open when considering which business have to close and which can remain open.”
Even so they've urged caution and in an updated statement this morning, Cycling UK Policy Director Roger Geffen says only essential journeys to bike shops should be made:
"Cycling UK urges people to distinguish between essential and non-essential shopping trips. This is not the moment to go out and browse for a nice new bike.
"However it’s another matter if you’re getting that neglected bike out of the shed so you can make essential journeys without relying on public transport or a lift in someone else’s car; and you therefore need to get a replacement tyre or inner tube, or to get the bike repaired by a professional mechanic.
"It is for this reason we think the Government is to be applauded for keeping bike shops open. Cycling is a great way not only to make that one bout of exercise each day, but also to make those essential journeys.
"Just remember when visiting the bicycle shop to follow public health social distancing and hygiene advice."
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.