High street book shop chain Waterstones is facing a furious backlash on social media over its decision to keep its stores open in the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, the retailer revealed it was keeping its shops open for customers, as the Government shut down pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres all over the country.
But employees and members of the public have reacted to the decision with fury, with many calling for a boycott of the business.
One Twitter user who claimed to work for the company said: "Working in @Waterstones today following the lockdown. No hand sanitiser provided, no wipes, no disinfectant, no reduced shop hours, cash still being accepted.
"We're being told by head office that gloves and masks are not permitted, meanwhile administrative staff have all been sent home for their 'safety'... absolutely NO social distancing being observed."
Someone responded: "So disappointed in @Waterstones #COVID19 #FlattenTheCuve."
Another wrote: "I love @Waterstones stores but they got to stop this - close down now, sell books by post, they evidently cannot keep their staff and customers safe."
A fourth tweeted: "@Waterstones will put themselves out of business with their terrible treatment of staff. Step up #Waterstones you are RUINING your brand reputation."
"Today I am adding @Waterstones to the blacklist of businesses to avoid in future," wrote another. "#Waterstones you should be ashamed. People can buy from you online so why do your stores need to stay open and risk the health of your staff? Selfish and stupid. Let them stay home."
A sixth said simply: "Boycott @Waterstones #BoycottWaterstones."
I am adding @Waterstones to the blacklist of businesses to avoid.
"Boycott them anyway," someone else tweeted. "Never forget this. There are other places to buy books, and other ways to access literature."
Another angry customer said: "Use the website and SHUT YOUR SHOPS. I swear many folk like me will boycott you forever if you continue this ridiculous, irresponsible decision to force your staff to work - not essential!"
ED! contacted Waterstones for comment and CEO James Daunt said the company treats its staff fairly and no one is compelled to work who can't or shouldn't be working.
He told ED! that books are important for people's wellbeing, given the number of Brits now in self-isolation or practising social distancing. James added: "Since the chancellor's announcement, there is no economic benefit to us remaining open. So we are keeping our shops open because we believe in what we do, and we know we are performing an important social benefit here."
Boycott them anyway. Never forget this. There are other places to buy books, and other ways to access literature.
— Lindsay Seddon (@SeddonLindsay) March 22, 2020
YES! Use the website and SHUT YOUR SHOPS😡😡😡 I swear many folk like me will boycott you forever if you continue this ridiculous, irresponsible decision to force your staff to work - not essential!!! #Waterstones
— kathryn f (@verdiKat) March 22, 2020
On Saturday (March 21) the UK death toll from the ongoing coronavirus crisis surged by 53 to reach 223.
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