Small shops ‘wrongly’ told stop selling Easter eggs amid pandemic

Convenience stores have been "wrongly" told to stop selling Easter eggs amid the coronavirus pandemic as they are considered non-essential goods, a trade body claims.

Some independent shops reported that council officers had attempted to tell them what items they could and could not sell, including chocolate eggs and hot cross buns.

But the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) accused officials of "misreading" the rules and has now told its members to continue selling such items as normal.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said in a statement: "The Government have defined which stores can remain open, and that includes convenience stores including newsagents and off-licences.

"There is no Government definition of which products can be sold within those stores.

"This is overzealous enforcement and a misreading of the rules."

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Government guidelines state that corner shops, newsagents and supermarkets are allowed to stay open during the pandemic, while businesses such as barbershops and restaurants should close.

Mr Lowman 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."

An ACS spokesman said about four convenience stores reported that they had been "wrongly" told by council environmental health officers to stop selling certain items which they deemed as non-essential.

The ACS, which represents more than 33,500 shops, said it had contacted Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, which confirmed that convenience stores should continue to sell all available products as normal.

Mr Lowman said local enforcement officers had been "interpreting rules in their own way" and taking "incorrect approaches".

"We advise any retailer facing this challenge to continue seeking their normal range, and to contact us with the name of the local authority or police force and officer so we can follow up with them," Mr Lowman said.

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