Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick MP has announced his intention to allow shops to remain open around the clock in the run-up to Christmas, and Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, is far from happy.
Describing the move as “madness”, Councillor Sykes said: “Once more a Conservative Minister has shown themselves to be completely out of touch with reality. It might work in an out-of-town retail park where no-one lives, but we have communities where supermarkets are situated cheek-by-jowl with homes. Imagine living next door to a supermarket or department store open 24-hours, dealing with the noise and the traffic of Christmas shoppers and of delivery trucks. Unlike London, we do not have a 24-hour public transport system so shoppers would still come in by car in the wee small hours, and residents would probably not get a wink of sleep. It would also put further pressure on shop workers to do more hours, rather than spending time with family.”
The Liberal Democrats believe the proposal also sends out a mixed message about the continued need for everyone to work together to prevent the transmission of Covid-19. Councillor Sykes added: “It seems like this government is moving from a situation where, when it comes to retail, next to nothing is open and then anything goes. If we want to stop Covid, we should not be encouraging prolonged and unnecessary interaction between shoppers throughout the day and night”.
“Robert Jenrick is suggesting that it is OK to spend several hours trailing around packed shops and department stores whilst at the same time ministers are banning customers from going into their local pub for a socially-distanced pint”.