I believe that Sunday Trading Laws should be suspended for the duration of the Coronavirus public health emergency, to ensure that our key workers have the time they need to stock up on food and other basic products. I was joined by my BEIS Select Committee colleague Peter Kyle in writing to the BEIS Secretray of State to bring this to issue to his attention.
The priority right now is to protect our NHS and follow the Government’s advice to stay at home and save lives.
We must also observe the restrictions on movement and maintain social distancing, which also means limiting shopping to what we actually need and when we need it.
Presently, supermarkets can only open on a Sunday for 6 consecutive hours, which makes over-crowding more likely and restricts customers’ access to essential items when they are needed. This needs to change. And change urgently.
We are all witnessing supermarkets and shops being overwhelmed. Social distancing isn’t being observed in queues and supermarket staff are also feeling the strain. They do not always believe they can protect themselves and appropriately observe social distancing. Even when supermarkets are offering slots for the vulnerable and key workers, bottlenecks are seen inside and outside shops.
The existing restrictive Sunday Trading Laws seem absurd in this present climate. For many of our key workers, Sunday is the only time they are not on the front line and they should not be standing in long queues for their once-in-a-week shop.
Sunday Trading Laws should be suspended for the same period that emergency legislation is in place, to cover this short-term crisis. They are restrictions that are not fit for purpose in these exceptional times. We need to ensure that access to essential supplies are available equally throughout the week.
The letter in full: