Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday

  • Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
Workplace Relations and Safety

The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause.

“Supermarkets will be able to open on Easter Sunday during our COVID-19 lockdown in order to ensure we are able to buy essential food, drink and household goods. The Government recognises that communities are concerned about getting essential items and there are few alternatives to supermarkets at this time,” says Iain Lees-Galloway, Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety.

“It is also important that workers are able to take a break during this busy period after doing an incredible job during such difficult times, so supermarkets will stay closed on Good Friday.

“Given most supermarkets are normally closed on Easter Sunday, it is important that employees know they still have the right to refuse to work that day. I am sure that employers will act fairly to those who don’t want to work and want a well-earned break.

“I encourage everyone to consider the strain on supermarkets at present and to only shop for what you need as usual, and keep using the distancing rule when shopping,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The Government has asked the Labour Inspectorate not to penalise supermarkets that remain open but will still assist workers who have been coerced into working on Easter Sunday as usual.

Supermarkets, unions and community agencies were consulted before a decision was made on opening over Easter. There are a range of views on this issue and we also acknowledge the religious significance of Easter Sunday for many people.

Staying open on Easter Sunday is permissible under the existing provisions of the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 and does not require a law change.

Editors note

The present circumstances are such that supermarkets will meet the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 exemption this year. Under current law, supermarkets will be permitted to open – as the circumstances are likely that they will meet the s4(1)(a) exemption this year, even though they don’t in other years; other than those allowed by their local authority.

This exemption applies where a shop meets strict ‘restricted goods’ and ‘reasonable quantities’ conditions.

Goods for sale:

(i) the goods for sale include nothing that is not food, drink, a household item, a personal item, … of a kind that people may reasonably need to be able to buy at any time; and

(ii) the quantity of goods for sale is no greater than that sufficient to meet the demands of the people who live or are staying in the area where the shop is, and people (other than people travelling in order to buy goods at the shop) travelling through the area.

Note local authorities also have their own policies around Easter trading.