CAR and bike shop Halfords will keep some shops open during the coronavirus lockdown in a bid to "keep the UK moving".
It temporarily closed its shop branches on Tuesday following government orders to close all non-essential shops, although its garages and mobile van services continued to operate.
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But now the retailer has been given permission to continue operating as a provider of "essential services".
By the end of the week, Halfords hopes to reopen most of its 446 stores so it can continue operating services during normal working hours alongside all of its 369 autocentre garages.
Instead of letting customers browse shelves in shops, it will be running a "drive in" and "click and collect" service to ensure that new social distancing rules are being observed.
This is where people must remain at least two meters – or six feet – apart to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to relieve the pressure on the NHS.
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The new "drive in, fit and repair" and "drive in pick or collect point for products" will see shoppers pick up essentials from the front of store.
Staff who are in the most vulnerable groups have been asked to stay at home.
Halfords said that it will constantly be reviewing the new system and will only continue to operate as long as it believes "it is safe to do so" for colleagues and communities.
Shoppers can still order goods from its website for home delivery services although you'll need to factor in the £2.99 charge if your order is under £30.
Orders over £30 are free to deliver, unless it is a "bulky item" which costs £39.99.
The retailer argues that its aim is to keep key workers and businesses moving in the response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Alongside the public, Halfords also provides fleet services to the British Transport Police, Border Control Agencies, the AA and several utilities providers including British Gas, SSE and EON.
It also hopes to help the key workers of Britain, the growing volunteer network and those of us making essential journeys, stay on the road with MOTs and vital motoring services.
Yesterday, it announced that it would provide free motoring checks for all NHS and emergency workers.
It has now extended this to include a free Bronze Bike Service for workers who've switched from using their cars to riding their bikes to work instead.
NHS workers will also be able to get 10 per cent off any replacement tyres.
Graham Stapleton, CEO Halfords Group plc, said: "I am really proud of our colleagues and how they are supporting us in our commitment to playing our part in keeping the UK and Ireland moving.
"However, we will only continue to play our role if we can ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and customers, and compliance with government policy.
"That’s why we are re-shaping how our stores serve local communities across Britain."
Other retailers to close down stores include McDonald's, Nando's and Argos stores, excluding those that are inside Sainsbury's supermarkets.
The Post Office is continuing to operate as normal – here's our guide to the opening hours.
Banks are also continuing to offer services and advice although some have changed their usual working times.
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