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Photo Credit: Facebook/ @gracecardsandbooks
Photo Credit: Facebook/ @gracecardsandbooks
Photo Credit: Facebook
Photo Credit: Facebook
World News

Christian couple that continued to open their store during Coronavirus lockdowns have fines overturned

by Sophie Drew

A Christian couple that accrued more than £40,000 in fines after opening their store in the national lockdowns has had their sanctions revoked. 

After being hit with multiple fines, Lydia and Alasdair Walker-Cox appeared in court twice. 

They argue that their Worcestershire store - which sells Christian books and newspapers, as well as gifts, cards and baking ingredients - should have been deemed essential. 

The owners of Grace Cards and Books, in Droitwich, took a stand against the lockdowns, reopening their store multiple times despite being bombarded with expensive fines, which only grew more expensive the more they flouted regulations. 

Lydia said: "So, for the second and third lockdowns, my husband and I kept our shop open, contrary to what the council wanted us to do. 

"We are a card and gift shop but we've sold that Christian media for 30 years.

"We have a sugar-craft cake-making supply section in the shop as well, so that's obviously edible products.

 "So we felt we fit into the food retailer and news media section of the exemption list, but the Council didn't accept that. 

"We ended up with £35,000 in fines, which obviously we didn't pay.

"We ended up going to trial on the 17th of August, which we lost and then they added costs , which brought you up to £44,000.

"So we appealed"

Following their appeal, the shop owners were successful in having their fine revoked. Lydia believes the political backdrop at the time of the appeal had a distinct effect on  their victory.

She continued: "Obviously, you've got to take into consideration that the political scene has changed quite a lot since August, when we had the trial. 

"We've had 'partygate', obviously, the Government not believing in their own rules - that would probably have played a part."

However, even after having the fine overturned, Lydia says the ramifications of the pandemic and multiple lockdowns continue to have a distinct effect on businesses.

"We don't really know what the future holds. Well, none of us do obviously. 

"Independent retail, in general, was in difficulty anyway, but lockdowns, 32 weeks of shops being closed, 32 weeks of people being told you can only shop in the big shops, it pushed people online probably 15 years earlier than it would have happened naturally. 

"They keep putting figures out about how many shops have not survived and so we don't know what the future holds, because there's definitely way less people out shopping - in the sort of traditional way - than there was before all this" 

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