Thousands call for Bicester Village to close over Covid-19 infection concerns

Almost five thousand people have signed a petition calling for Bicester Village to close, or implement better social distancing measures, following concerns the busy streets will cause a spike in Covid-19 infections.

The upmarket Oxfordshire shopping outlet, which is home to 160 boutique shops, reopened on Monday, but video shared online shows people struggling to maintain social distancing.

Jake Finlay released a vlog via his YouTube Channel, TheFinlayAdventure, showing how busy the shops were on the first day of reopening.

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Queues as shops reopen
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Queues as shops reopen
People queue outside Nike Town at Oxford Circus, London, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
A queue at the Sports Direct store stretches as far as the eye can see in Oxford Street after the UK�s shops were allowed to reopen. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Shoppers queue outside a bootmakers as lockdown restrictions have been relaxed to allow non-essential shops to reopen in England
Shoppers queue outside Sports Direct in Leicester on the first day of opening since lockdown began
People queue outside Nike Town on Oxford Circus, London, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.
People queue outside Nike Town at Oxford Circus, London, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.
Shoppers queue outside T.K.Maxx in Kingston as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.
Shoppers queue at Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/15: Police officers watch people queuing outside Primark store on Londons Oxford Street after the shops were allowed to reopen. (Photo by Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
In the 24hrs that a further 38 died from Coronavirus, bringing the total to 41,736, a further easing of the UKs Covid pandemic lockdown restrictions took place with many high street shops today being allowed to re-open after three months of forced closure. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wanting to stimulate the economy, has urged people to "shop with confidence" and long queues formed outside the main brands. But unlike on public transport, face coverings are not compulsory so shop floors and shopping practices have had to be adapted to ensure customers social distances, amid fears of a second infection wave. Young buyers queue outside Nikeworld and wait for opening time held in a pen at Oxford Circus, on 15th June 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
In the 24hrs that a further 38 died from Coronavirus, bringing the total to 41,736, a further easing of the UKs Covid pandemic lockdown restrictions took place with many high street shops today being allowed to re-open after three months of forced closure. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wanting to stimulate the economy, has urged people to "shop with confidence" and long queues formed outside the main brands. But unlike on public transport, face coverings are not compulsory so shop floors and shopping practices have had to be adapted to ensure customers social distances, amid fears of a second infection wave. Young buyers queue outside Nikeworld and wait for opening time held in a pen at Oxford Circus, on 15th June 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Shoppers queue to enter the Oxford Street branch of sportswear retailer Sports Direct in London, England, on June 15, 2020. Non-essential retail stores across England have today been allowed to open for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed back in March. In central London, shoppers were out in force this afternoon, with queues outside many stores due to social distancing requirements within. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Ahead of the opening on the first day of business since the coronavirus lockdown, customers queue on the pavement outside W.J. French and Son, a long-established shoe-fitting shop in Southampton, on the south coast of England on June 15, 2020, as some non-essential retailers reopen from their coronavirus shutdown. - Various stores and outdoor attractions in England are set to open Monday for the first time in nearly three months, as the government continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
As the Coronavirus lockdown measures ease, the city centre starts to fill with people as they return to the shopping district and queue for fashion retailer Primark which opened it's doors for the first time on 15th June 2020 in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. As of today the government has relaxed it's lockdown rules, and is allowing some non-essential shops to open with individual shops setting up 'social distancing' queueing systems. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
As the Coronavirus lockdown measures ease, the city centre starts to fill with people as they return to the shopping district and queue for fashion retailer Primark which opened it's doors for the first time on 15th June 2020 in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. As of today the government has relaxed it's lockdown rules, and is allowing some non-essential shops to open with individual shops setting up 'social distancing' queueing systems. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
Customers, some wearing face masks or coverings as a precaution against COVID-19, queue to enter the H&M clothing store inside the Westfield indoor shopping centre in west Shepherds Bush, west of London on June 15, 2020 as some non-essential retailers reopen from their coronavirus shutdown. - Various stores and outdoor attractions in England are set to open Monday for the first time in nearly three months, as the government continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: People get their temperature checked as they queue outside the Apple store in Covent Garden on June 15, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The British government have relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly from Monday June 15, allowing zoos, safari parks and non-essential shops to open to visitors. Places of worship will allow individual prayers and protective face-masks become mandatory on London Transport. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUN 15, 2020 - Coronavirus: Queuing outside shops in Wood Green, non essential shops can reopen from today- PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUN 15, 2020 - Coronavirus: Queuing outside shops in Wood Green, non essential shops can reopen from today- PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Customers queue to enter Foot Locker in Oxford Street, London as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Customers, some wearing face masks or coverings as a precaution against COVID-19, queue outside Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London on June 15, 2020 as some non-essential retailers reopen from their coronavirus shutdown. - Various stores and outdoor attractions in England are set to open Monday for the first time in nearly three months, as the government continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM- JUNE 15: Shoppers queue for TK Maxx on June 15, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The British government have relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly from Monday June 15, allowing zoos, safari parks and non-essential shops to open to visitors. Places of worship will allow individual prayers and protective facemasks become mandatory on London Transport. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM- JUNE 15: Shoppers queue for JD Sports on June 15, 2020 in Plymouth, United Kingdom. The British government have relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly from Monday June 15, allowing zoos, safari parks and non-essential shops to open to visitors. Places of worship will allow individual prayers and protective facemasks become mandatory on London Transport. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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He told the PA news agency people had been queuing up outside the stores an hour before they even opened.

"There was very little social distancing taking place, and no one enforcing or telling you to do so, and there was nothing there saying to wear a mask," he said.

Despite there being temperature checks on the way into the village, he said once inside there was very little enforcement of social distancing.

Mr Finlay said: "As a resident of Bicester, and I used to work in Bicester Village, I appreciate it being here and I love the culture it brings to the town and the business it brings.

"To see it close under these circumstances would be bad, and I don't really want them to close but they do need to sort these measures out.

"If they can't sort it out, then they do need to close it temporarily."

Footage from Mr Finlay's vlog show busy streets with very little social distancing taking place (YouTube: TheFinlayAdventure)

"Bicester Village is a place that prides itself on its image and wants to be beautiful and pretty and look like a village.

"And because of that, it has benches and planters in the middle of the street.

"But actually, they should have taken that away, that would have made more sense and maybe do lanes, as other places have done."

Cherwell District Council told PA: "The council is in conversations with the management at Bicester Village and we also have also had staff on the ground today monitoring the situation."

People had to queue and have their temperature taken before they were able to go inside (YouTube: TheFinlayAdventure)

Laura Wicks, who authored the petition that has been signed by more than 4,700 people, wrote: "I was disgusted to see the hundreds of people squashed into the street like coronavirus never happened.

"As a nation, we are all still under the 2-metre guidelines and as a company, Bicester Village have a responsibility to keep its staff safe.

"It is horrendous that the people who work there are being forced into an unsafe environment when so many of them have family at home."

The owners of Bicester Village have been contacted for comment.

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