Johnson looks at plan to lift Sunday trading rules to boost economy

Sunday trading restrictions could be suspended for a year under government plans to kick-start the UK’s coronavirus-ravaged economy.

Responding to the reports, Downing Street sources confirmed the laws are “being looked at”, but did not give further details.

Cafes and pubs, hard-hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, would also get fast-track approval to serve food and drink outside, according to The Times.

The moves are among a package of measures being drawn up by the government in a bid to offset the looming recession and threat of mass unemployment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the legislation being drafted, larger supermarkets would be able to open for more than six hours on Sundays, the paper said.

However, there will be concerns that the plan could run into opposition from more traditionalist Conservative backbenchers as well as church leaders.

Former prime minister David Cameron was forced to drop plans to extend Sunday trading hours in 2016 after suffering a humiliating Commons defeat which saw 27 Tories joining forces with opposition parties.

Licensing laws will also be streamlined, enabling cafes and pubs to serve food and drink outdoors without having to go through the current 28-day minimum statutory consultation period.

Ministers also want to make it easier for pubs to revamp their layout so they can serve customers outside.

In a further bid to revive the high street, planning restrictions will be simplified, making it easier to switch between shops, retail and residential uses.

It comes after Boris Johnson braced the nation for the economic damage caused by the public health crisis as he warned that it was “inevitable” that there would be “many, many job losses”.