Retail leaders have called on the government to think again about plans for phasing the reopening of retail stores.
Ahead of an anticipated easing of lockdown measures, the BRC said a risk-based approach - rather than reopening depending on the size of stores - needed to underpin the government’s strategy.
In an open letter in The Times, the consortium criticised reported plans for small shops to be the first to reopen in early June, followed by large shopping centres in the second phase.
The letter says a phased reopening based on the size of retail stores could have negative consequences for public safety.
“I read with alarm that in the first phase of lifting lockdown restrictions the government is to prioritise small shops for reopening,” said BRC CEO Helen Dickinson in the letter.
“This approach provides the least economic benefit and poses the greatest risk to health. It is the worst of both worlds.”
She added: “Safety should be the only basis for making decisions on reopening; size of shop should not come into it. Retailers have made detailed plans, based on BRC-Usdaw guidance and the hard-won experience of retailers operating during lockdown.
“They will make a risk assessment: if it is safe, they will open and get people back to work; if it isn’t, they will not.”