Call for 'fair and consistent' Covid-19 restrictions

Business owners forced to close in line with government Covid-19 restrictions were outraged by street stalls selling non-essential goods at Cookstown market on Saturday.

Cookstown town centre.
Cookstown town centre.

Pictures of stallholders selling clothing and DVDs in front of closed established businesses which sell the same items along the main street were circulated on the Internet.

A number of business owners vented their anger at the situation on social media.

One described the street market as “a free for all” on Saturday despite coronavirus restrictions.

Another said the situation was a “complete disgrace” and unfair to shop owners selling items such as clothes.

Local SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said he has raised the issue with the Northern Ireland Executive and called for more clarity in the guidelines.

He said the guidelines must be “equal and fair” for all business owners.

“It’s a difficult enough time for traders and for those who have lost loved ones coming up to this Christmas,” said Mr McGlone. He stressed the government guidelines must be clear and consistent.

“It does not make sense to have some retail shops selling non essential items closed while the sale of such items is continuing on the street in front of them,” he said.

Mr McGlone has asked the Executive to advise him as to the guidelines in relation to stalls/street trading during the current restricted period.

He pointed out that he had received pictures sent to him of street traders selling goods on Saturday as usual on Cookstown main street, while “non essential retail shops similar goods have had to shut”.

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