Lockdown restrictions are set to ease further next Monday, with pubs and restaurants able to reopen for outdoor dining, and non-essential retail also allowed to open again.

Last month the government announced shops in England would be able to stay open until 10pm six days a week when customers return on April 12.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the move would help businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic and allow customers to shop safely.

We asked readers what they thought of the news on the BFP’s Facebook page – and the reaction was mixed.

Many of you thought it was a good idea as it would give businesses more freedom to stay open late and spread out times for people to shop and protect staff members – but many more were not happy about it, saying staff would be forced to work longer hours and it would affect work-life balance.

Claire Rushby commented: “Absolutely ridiculous. I work in retail and have worked right throughout lockdown, just like many others.

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“I think we deserve a bit of a break. We have lost members of staff due to having no hours so now it’s down to the remaining staff to work these hours till ridiculous times.

“What about those who have lives at home? I have a husband and three kids, I’m working nine hours a day, five days a week.

“My husband then goes off to do a night shift when I’m home. I barely see him or the kids as it is. Talk about putting more pressure on us all.”

And Joanna Axtell said: “What happened to allowing people to have a work life balance? Have we not learnt that there is more to life than shops?

“Allow people to rest and spend time with their families and look after their mental health. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait to be bought the next day. This is really sad and breaks my heart.”

And Marianne Matthews questioned how companies would manage to staff the extra hours “given the amount of redundancies that have been made,” while Jayne Austin wrote: “And once again retail staff taking the hit to probably have to change shifts or do longer hours.”

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Tracey Dell commented: “Thought we were supposed to be sensible about the roadmap out of lockdown, how that this responsible? Numbers will rise massively again.”

But Kirsty Burnage said it was a “good idea”, adding: “That should have been done more last year to spread out times for shoppers/protect staff,” while Julian Walters commented: “I think it’s a good idea for a couple of months or so, there will be a very high demand so extending hours keeps staff and customers safer.”

Donna Hall said: “Giving business freedoms is a positive,” and Julie Hazell wrote: “[It] would help reduce mayhem.”