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Christian charity and unions call for re-think over relaxing of Sunday trading laws

by Marcus Jones

The UK government is being urged to put people before profits as reports suggest it's ready to relax the laws on Sunday trading.

According to the Times, ministers are planning to suspend current laws for a year to try and stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

Larger supermarkets could open for more than six hours on Sundays while cafes and pubs would be given fast-track approval to serve food and drink outside, doing away with the need for the 28-day minimum statutory consultation period

The British Chambers of Commerce argues that "businesses need to be given every possible opportunity to start to generate sales again".

Christian campaigning group CARE is raising concerns.

Spokesman James Mildred said: "We do not think that profit should be put before people - even in the midst of a global pandemic. 

"Human beings are not simply economic machines, we are more than that. We were made as relational beings and because of that, it's really important that time off, in common, is respected. 

"Let's keep Sunday special. Let's keep time off in common and let's keep a day where families can spend more time together and where shop workers in particular can take a break from their from their work."

Unions are also raising objections.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw, said: "The last thing the retail industry needs is longer trading hours, there is no economic case for this and it will put extra pressure on the retail workers who have worked so hard throughout this crisis."

The Sunday Trading Act of 1994 allows large stores to open for no more than six consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm.

Former prime minister David Cameron was forced to drop plans to extend Sunday trading hours in 2016 after suffering a humiliating Commons defeat which saw 27 Tories joining forces with opposition parties.

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