Lydia and Alasdair Walker-Cox are refusing to close their gift card shop during lockdown (Picture: Tristan Potter/SWNS)
The defiant owners of a gift card shop say they would rather go to prison than close their business.
Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox are hitting out after being fined £20,000 for refusing to close during lockdown.
The couple have run Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire, for 30 years and insist they sell essential items, such as newspapers, snacks and baking products.
Mrs Walker-Cox, 50, believes face masks are not healthy and are ‘terrible things to wear’. She also claims she was threatened with arrest for refusing to wear one while stacking shelves in the shop.
She said: ‘A garden centre is open from 10am till 6pm, what is essential about that?
‘It’s not even spring and summer when everyone is gardening so tell me what is essential about a garden centre?’
Mrs Walker-Cox said they ‘have a family to feed and bills to pay’ and are prepared to go to court to defend their right to stay open.
She said: ‘I can’t see the proof of being a health hazard and that is the grounds for which we are being told to close.
The couple are confronted by council officers (Picture: Alasdair Walker-Cox/SWNS)
The masked officers warn them they are breaking the lockdown rules by staying open (Picture: Alasdair Walker-Cox/SWNS)
‘Our lease states that we can sell food items so we can be classed as a food retailer,’ she added.
‘When the rubber hits the road, if it was you who didn’t have a job and can’t provide for your family and can’t pay your bills then it would be different.
‘We are willing to take this to court. I don’t think masks are healthy, I think they are terrible things to wear.
‘What kind of country are we living in now why can’t I have my personal opinions?’
Lydia and Alasdair, 54, were first fined £1,000 last November but have now accumulated £20,000 in penalties for keeping their shop open.
The defiant business owners have been fined £20,000 for repeatedly refusing to stay shut (Picture: Tristan Potter/SWNS)
Wychavon District Council said discussions had taken place about further action, including a forced closure or court action, due to concerns about the risk the shop’s continued opening poses to public health.
Council Leader Bradley Thomas said: ‘Despite the impact coronavirus regulations are having on businesses, the vast majority of our traders are following the rules because they want to play their part in bringing infections down to help protect our NHS and save lives.
‘It’s disappointing this one particular business feels the need to flout the rules and we will work with our partners to take further action, if needed, to protect the public.
‘Financial support is available to businesses and we are working hard to get that money out as fast as possible.
‘While infections are coming down in Wychavon, they are still high, and our local NHS remains under significant pressure.
‘We have a plan to support businesses to rebuild once this pandemic is over.
‘That day will come much faster if we all follow the rules and help get back on top of this virus.’
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