A STRABANE business man has expressed his frustration at the ‘lack of clear guidance’ after his store was reported for breaching Covid-19 click and collect rules.
Houstons Homeware in Strabane started operating their click and collect service on Monday of last week as they believed they fell into the category of stores that were allowed to resume the service.
On the Tuesday morning however, owner John Houston received an email from the Environmental Health to say someone had reported his store for selling goods outside of the restrictions.
After seeking clarification though, he found that the store is only permitted to offer click and collect on their electrical items.
John explained that the wording on click and collects stated that stores that sell electrical goods can resume the service, not stores that only sell electrical goods.
Speaking to the Chronicle, he said, “Environmental Health told us they got a complaint from a member of the public stating that we were operating the click and collect service.
“We assumed that we were allowed to do this but we are not allowed to do click and collect for goods other than electrical goods.
“I did not take this very well.
“I think it is lunacy.
“There needs to be more clarification in the guidelines – the amount of grey area around retail is crazy.
“The wording said stores that sell electrical good can operate click and collect, which we do but after I enquired they said I can sell the electrical goods but not any of our other products. It is just ridiculous.
“The way they are categorising what is essential has changed – homeware could trade previously but now we are at the back of the queue,” added John.
On Tuesday, it was announced that all non essential stores will be allowed to operate a click and collect service again from April 12.
For now, Houstons is operating online on social media and their website, and John has been doing a free delivery service to customers living in the local BT82 area.
The local businessman is also frustrated that some larger retailers have been fully open for business during the lockdown, while small businesses have remained closed.
He continued, “There are large stores that are selling everything – all of their product lines – homeware, clothing, everything when the rest of us had to close.
“Small businesses are the ones that are being disproportionately targeted but yet supermarkets can operate as they want.”