Coronavirus: Thousands sign petition to temporarily close Bicester Village over COVID-19 concerns

June 16, 2020

Thousands of people have signed a petition to temporarily close Bicester Village after photos showing crowds of shoppers sparked coronavirus concerns.

More than 4,600 people have signed since Monday after the outdoor shopping centre in Oxfordshire reopened as part of the government's roll back on the COVID-19 lockdown.

Pictures and videos on social media showed crowds of people - many of whom did not appear to be adhering to social distancing guidelines - queuing outside its famous discount designer outlets.

Laura Wicks, who launched the Change.org petition, said she was "disgusted" to see people "squashed into the street like coronavirus never happened".

She added: "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."

Bicester Village is an upscale shopping complex located on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire town, and is known for its 160 designer boutiques.

It is normally extremely popular with foreign visitors, particularly Chinese tourists, who travel from London for day trips.

To keep shoppers safe, it has advised them to stick to quieter hours and listed a number of "shopping protocols" on its website.

This included encouraging customers to keep two metres apart and sign up to "digital queuing" where possible.

Jo Jacobson, who visited when the site reopened and later signed the petition, said crowds were mostly outside the stores, while inside they were "very empty".

They suggested: "If the stores doubled the number of customers allowed in (to 8-10) there would still be plenty of social distancing space in the stores themselves but the queues outside would move faster and be shorter."

Meanwhile, another signatory, Chloe Mannerings, said she also supported the petition to close the village for the time being because she was concerned for the safety of her family members working there.

She wrote: "If they get sick due to the neglect of value retail it will break my heart."

Sky News has contacted Bicester Village for comment.

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