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Market farces? Traders ask: ‘Why can’t we stay open?’

Stallholders call on government to be treated the same as supermarkets during the lockdown

06 November, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Chapel Market stallholder Ritesh Lakhiara

NOT allowing street traders to continue working through the lockdown is a “ludicrous” decision that will have a “catastrophic” impact, stall-holders warned this week.

All stalls in Islington that are not selling “essential” goods such as food and DIY materials have been told they must shut up shop for the duration of the current lockdown, which many believe will last longer than the 28 days announced by prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday.

Traders at Chapel Market, in Angel, spoke to the Tribune on Wednesday as shoppers rushed to get their hands on last-minute items before all non-essential high street stores are closed in a bid to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases across the country.

Ritesh Lakhiara, who has sold accessories for eight years at the market, said: “I have been worried and stressed for days. I have no other income. I tried to get Universal Credit but for a reason I don’t understand I was rejected.

Shoppers in Camden Passage

“So my friends are now helping with food and helping my family. Without an income from the market I have nothing.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm Daily opened essential oils stall Escentuals a few weeks ago after losing the work he had in the hospitality sector.

He said: “The club I was running is closed. Closing down the market is ludicrous. It’s safer for people to shop outside.”

Mr Daily claimed he was going to defy the order to close down.

Joanne Coote, whose family have run a card stall on the market for more than 50 years, added: “For us, this will be catastrophic. We could just about manage with a month but if we’re shut down for longer we are in a lot of trouble.”

Last-minute queues in Angel

She added: “The Federation of Market Traders met with the government yesterday (Tuesday). They were trying to say that markets should be treated the same as supermarkets.

“They’re even safer than supermarkets. You have a look at M&S and they’re going to still sell clothes and cards. It’s really unfair.”

The Angel Shopping Centre and Chapel Market was busy on Wednesday, with queues stretching out of stores.

Ms Coote said: “The difference between the two lockdowns is amazing. On the eve of the last lockdown it was like a ghost town here. This time it’s like everyone is out manically buying bizarre stuff.”

Ron Granger will be allowed to keep his key cutting stall open on the market.

“I’m glad I have ‘DIY’ on my licence,” he said. “This is going to be a tough time for the market though.”

A council spokesman said they had not received full guidance from the government yet on what the strategy for markets will be over this lockdown.

A department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “We are giving councils £1.1bn to deliver local targeted support for businesses and if the market stall holders are self employed they will be eligible for the updated Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”


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