DIY retailers B&Q, Homebase and Wickes have reopened a raft of stores after closing their doors in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
Hardware stores were named as essential retailers by the Government last month but they still largely shut their doors temporarily due to the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Homebase said it had reopened another 50 sites following a successful trial across 20 stores which it opened last week.
The retailer said its remaining UK outlets will all be reopened for customers to browse and shop from Saturday.
Damian McGloughlin, chief executive officer at Homebase, said: “We have taken this time to carefully review and make a large number of changes to our operations in preparation for a safe, phased reopening, in line with Government guidance on social distancing.
“It has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment from our teams across all parts of the business to ensure we are ready to safely welcome customers back through our doors.
“I’m extremely grateful for the dedication shown by every single team member, and to our customers, for the huge support and understanding.”
B&Q, which was one of the first to reopen stores, said on Wednesday it is now welcoming customers to 285 of its outlets.
It said it is “strictly limiting the number of customers in store at any one time” and has placed two-metre markers outside its shops to help people in queues socially distance.
Graham Bell, B&Q chief executive officer, said: “During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, we’re all learning new ways of living and shopping. We’ve watched how other essential retailers have supported social distancing in their stores and followed their best practice with trials at 14 stores.
“Following the success of the trials, with customers adhering to our social distancing measures, we’ve now opened over half of our stores.
“We’re confident that our strict social distancing measures keep customers and colleagues safe while helping homes and gardens, as well as people’s wellbeing, to be maintained.”
Meanwhile, Wickes has launched a trial to reopen six stores with new social distancing measures in place.
It said stores in Pudsey, Cheltenham, Preston, Sevenoaks, Cricklewood and Hailsham will open to the public on Thursday.
The retailer said the trial stores will operate shorter opening hours on Monday to Saturday, opening from 7am to 6pm.