Huge queues at B&Q store in Washington which has reopened as bosses urge shoppers to follow social distancing rules
The DIY supplier B&Q has reopened its store in Washington - but insists strict social distancing rules will be in place.
B&Q temporarily closed its stores after the UK went into lockdown on March 23, yet several outlets have since reopened.
The Washington store is operating with reduced opening hours of 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Sundays as normal.
Huge queues could be seen outside the Washington branch on the first day of opening on Wednesday April 22, with barriers in place to ensure social distancing.
Nearby B&Q stores in Sunderland and Durham have remained closed but could reopen soon following a review.
B&Q has defended its decision to reopen stores and has cited other retailers which have remained open with social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A B&Q spokesperson said: "As an essential retailer, we’re committed to providing the best possible service to support customers’ home improvement needs at this difficult time, while keeping customers and colleagues safe.
"Having watched other essential retailers support social distancing in their stores, we are now following their best practice and are re-opening some stores, including B&Q Washington, with strict social distancing measures in place.
"Similar to shopping at a supermarket, we’re strictly limiting the number of customers in store at any one time, and so customers are typically queueing before entering stores. All stores have a designated queuing area outside and these have two metre markers to help remind everyone to respect each other’s personal space.
"To further support social distancing, we have two metre floor markers throughout the store and have also installed perspex screens at the checkouts.
“Only products that you can shop and takeaway in store on the day are available to customers. Our services such as kitchen and bathroom design, paint mixing, timber cutting and key cutting are not available for the time being and, at this point in time, we’re only accepting card and contact-less payments.
"We are reviewing the current openings before making any decisions about re-opening more stores, including B&Q Durham and B&Q Sunderland.”