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Gift card shop owners handed £20,000 in fines after they refused to close during lockdown

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read

Watch: Shop owners tell police they will not close for lockdown

The defiant owners of a gift card shop who refused to close during lockdown have given fines totalling £20,000.

Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox were penalised for breaking coronavirus rules after staying open despite non-essential shops being told to stay shut.

However, the couple insisted Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire, sold essential items including newspapers, snacks and baking products and welcomed customers.

Mrs Walker-Cox, 50, has also been threatened with arrest for refusing to wear a mask while stacking the shelves in the shop.

Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox (left) were visited by police after they kept their store open during lockdown. (SWNS)
Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox (left) were visited by police after they kept their store open during lockdown. (SWNS)

Despite the fines, the couple, who have run the shop for 30 years, say they would rather go to prison than close their business.

Mrs Walker-Cox defended the couple’s actions, questioning why garden centres were allowed to stay open as “it’s not even spring or summer”.

She said: "We are doing our job by being and we have a family to feed and bills to pay.

"I can't see the proof of being a health hazard and that is the grounds for which we are being told to close.”

Mrs Waker-Cox said the couple, who were first fined £1,000 last November, are willing to go to court over their stance.

Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox said Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcs. sold essential items including newspapers, snacks and baking products. (SWNS)
Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox said Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire, sold essential items including newspapers, snacks and baking products. (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.

Grace Cards and Books was visited by police during lockdown. (SWNS)
Grace Cards and Books was visited by police during lockdown. (SWNS)

“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.”

Thomas highlighted the financial support that was available to businesses, adding that the local NHS “remains under significant pressure”.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown