SUNDAY trading laws must be scrapped to ease supermarket queues during the coronavirus crisis, ministers have been told.
Lifting the restrictions would give key workers more time to go food shopping with less risk of being infected, according to campaigners.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
MPs describe the six-hour opening limit as “absurd” when the elderly and hard-working NHS staff are struggling to beat panic-buyers.
Members of the Commons business committee have urged Business Secretary Alok Sharma to suspend the laws during the lockdown, saying: “Business as usual is no longer an option.”
There are fears the six-hour limit, applied to stores over 3,000 sq ft, is undermining social distancing guidelines as key workers all pile into the shops on their days off. It also makes it harder for shop staff to control customer numbers and keep people apart.
Tory MP Nusrat Ghani said: “The existing restrictive Sunday Trading Laws seem absurd in this present climate. For many of our key workers, Sunday is the only time they aren’t on the front line and they should not be standing in long queues for their once-a-week shop.”
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don’t miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun’s Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply ‘Like’ our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain’s best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
The Sunday Trading Act of 1994 allows large stores to open for six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm but no longer. In the past, some Tories have opposed lifting the limit on religious and family grounds, but campaigners point out that weekend family outings and churchgoing are now banned under lockdown rules.
Labour MP Peter Kyle said: “These outdated laws are hampering the efforts of retailers and customers to do the right thing. In the current crisis, these restrictions make even less sense than they did before. Places of worship can no longer hold any services and one of the few reasons people are allowed out is to get their shopping.
“It makes sense to lift these restrictions so people can do their essential shopping without being put at risk.”
The Sun On Sunday Says
BRITAIN’S restrictive Sunday trading laws were already well past their sell-by date.
But in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic gripping the country they are even more ridiculous.
At this time of crisis, with even Sunday churches closed, how can it make sense to limit supermarket opening hours when people are queuing around the block?
Since Boris Johnson bravely put Britain into lockdown, a raft of emergency measures have been introduced.
Surely it is not too great a step to bring in one more and suspend these outdated restrictions, as happened during the 2012 Olympics.
MPs Nusrat Ghani and Peter Kyle are today demanding ministers change the “absurd” laws immediately.
Sunday is the only time many front-line health workers get a break from their daily job battling the epidemic.
So it is disgraceful that they should have to spend it in long lines for their once-a-week shop.
Allowing supermarkets to remain open longer than the current six hours would also reduce scenes of overcrowding that put staff and shoppers at risk.
Without religious services, football matches and weekend events, Sunday is currently little different from the rest of the week anyway.
So shopping hours should be the same as well, at least during the crisis.
The Government must see sense and keep the Sunday shop doors open for longer.