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Shops shut for queen's funeral but pubs to raise glass

·3-min read

Many retailers will shut Monday for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II but thousands of pubs and bars will remain open for Britons to toast the late monarch.

The UK has declared a public holiday for the event due to be attended by world leaders and watched by millions across the globe on television and social media.

British schools and the London Stock Exchange will shut on the day, as is the case on every UK public holiday.

A number of hospital appointments have been postponed, while a day off work for millions of Britons is set to weigh on the UK economy, already headed for recession owing to sky-high inflation.

Britain's biggest supermarkets led by Tesco and Sainsbury's will close, as will major clothing store Primark.

Food-to-clothing retailer Marks and Spencer plans to open only a few shops that are situated close to the funeral and burial venues in and around London.

"Due to the millions of expected mourners travelling on the day, we will have a small number of stores open," M&S said.

All UK branches of US fast-food giant McDonald's will be closed until after the funeral ends.

Not everyone is happy at the closures, with disgruntled holidaymakers forcing Center Parcs to U-turn on its decision to remove guests from its UK venues for 24 hours.

Visitors had been told they would have to vacate the parks next Monday "as a mark of respect and to allow as many... colleagues as possible to be part of this historic moment".

Following customer complaints, however, Center Parcs said guests still on holiday at its venues would be allowed to stay -- but those not due to start their vacations until Monday would have to delay arrival by one day.

"We recognise that leaving the village for one night and returning is extremely inconvenient," the company said in a message to customers seen by media.

"On reflection and having listened, we have made the decision to allow guests on longer duration breaks to remain... on Monday September 19."

- Pubs 'honour' queen -

The UK's biggest pub group said it plans to keep venues open and show the funeral on its televisions.

"The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a momentous and sombre occasion," Stonegate Group, which runs about 4,500 sites, said in a statement.

"Our managed pubs, bars and venues remain open and, where possible, will show the funeral... to honour her life and service," added the owner of popular bar brands Walkabout and Slug & Lettuce.

Many other pubs plan to keep on serving, with Greene King opening all its venues in central London, allowing "communities to come together".

Elsewhere, London's Heathrow airport has flagged likely disruption to flights.

"We anticipate further changes to the Heathrow operation... when Her Majesty's funeral is due to take place," the hub said.

Air traffic above London was already restricted Wednesday for a procession of the queen's coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where the late monarch lies in state until her funeral in Westminster Abbey.

The queen will be buried in Windsor, west of London.

bur-bcp/imm