Calls for Bicester Village to close over social distancing fears

More than 5,000 people call for Bicester Village to CLOSE or improve its social-distancing after hundreds packed into the designer outlet on first day of post-lockdown trading on Monday

  • Upmarket Oxfordshire shopping outlet, which is home to 160 boutique shops, reopened on Monday
  • But people have been struggling to maintain social distancing after reopening of non-essential stores
  • It comes amid concerns busy streets will cause a spike in Covid-19 infections following surge in footfall

More than 5,500 people have signed a petition calling for Bicester Village to close or implement better social distancing measures amid fears over a coronavirus spike.

The upmarket Oxfordshire shopping outlet, which is home to 160 boutique shops, reopened on Monday, but people have been struggling to maintain social distancing.

It comes amid concerns the busy streets will cause a spike in Covid-19 infections following a surge in footfall after non-essential stores reopened in England this week.

The upmarket Oxfordshire shopping outlet, which is home to 160 boutique shops, reopened on Monday (pictured), but people have been 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. He said 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, Mr Finlay said once inside there was very little enforcement of social distancing.

He 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.

There are concerns that the busy streets in Bicester (above, on Monday) will cause a spike in Covid-19 infections following a surge in footfall after non-essential stores reopened in England

‘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. 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.’

More than 5,500 people have signed a petition calling for Bicester Village to close or implement better social distancing 

Shoppers arrived at Bicester Village on Monday after non-essential stores across England were allowed to reopen

A Cherwell District Council spokesman said: ‘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.’

Laura Wicks, who authored the petition that has been signed by 5,574 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 two-metre guidelines and as a company, Bicester Village have a responsibility to keep its staff safe.

Laura Wicks, who authored the petition that has been signed by more than 5,500 people, wrote: ‘I was disgusted to see the hundreds of people squashed into the street’

‘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.’

A Thames Valley Police spokesman tweeted: ‘Queue management at shopping centres would fall to the managing company. 

‘Police forces cannot enforce social distancing as it is government guidance, not the law. We would ask everyone to do all they can to stop the spread of coronavirus.’

The owners of Bicester Village have been contacted for comment.

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