'B&Q STORES should remain open as they provide an important service' - this is the belief held by the majority Reading residents, according to an online poll by The Chronicle.

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DIY chain B&Q seemed to face a public backlash for reopening stores after pictures circulated on social media of huge queues at the Reading store during the weekend, however 59 per cent of voters agreed that B&Q are rightly classed as 'essential'.

Reading Chronicle:

In total, 633 people voted, with 41 per cent saying they believe B&Q should not be deemed essential during lockdown.

Pictures taken on Saturday show crowds of people gathered outside the store at Reading Gate Retail Park, Acre Road.

Many readers expressed their shock at this, with Rachel Cunnett commenting: "Ridiculous - why did B&Q open?"

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Responding to criticism, Graham Bell, B&Q CEO, said: "During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, we're all learning new ways of living and shopping; we've watched how other essential retailers have supported social distancing in their stores and followed their best practice with trials at 14 stores.

"Following the success of the trials, with customers adhering to our social distancing measures, we’ve now opened over half of our stores.

"We're confident that our strict social distancing measures keep customers and colleagues safe while helping homes and gardens, as well as people's wellbeing, to be maintained."