Coronavirus: Criticism of shops selling Easter eggs during Covid-19 outbreak is wrong, says trade body

Matt Mathers

Shop owners can continue selling Easter eggs during the coronavirus pandemic, a trade body has announced after reports officials had told them the products were non-essential.

Some convenience stores had been visited by police and health officers who told them that chocolate eggs were not deemed essential during the lockdown, according to the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The body – which represents over 30,000 retailers across the UK – blamed “overzealous enforcement” and misreading of the rules, and advised its members to continue selling a range of products.

“The government has defined which stores can remain open, and that includes convenience stores, including newsagents and off-licences,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.

“There is no government definition of which products can be sold within those stores.”

He added: “In the cases where officers have challenged retailers and shoppers in this way, it’s brought confusion, distracted retailers in the busiest weeks of their lives and increased the interactions between people at a time when the government is trying to minimise them.”

According to official government guidance, off-licences, supermarkets, pharmacies as well as newsagents and corner shops are permitted to stay open during the pandemic.

However, there is no specific details on what those shops remaining open can and can’t sell.

It came after a number of incidents last week in which police and authorities were accused of heavy-handedness during the outbreak.

A police officer in Edgware, northwest London, was accused of lacking common sense after he issued a ticket to a bakery using chalk on the pavement to enforce social-distancing.

Following a conversation with the officer in question, the Met later confirmed it had rescinded the fine.

On Sunday, Derbyshire Police came under fire after officers poured black dye into the “Blue Lagoon” in Buxton to deter swimmers from using the pool.

Just a few days earlier, the force was accused of “nanny policing” for using drones in the Peak District to stop people from travelling to the beauty spot to walk.

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