A businessman is calling on the Government to allow tanning shops to reopen along with pubs and hair salons.
Adam Mooney, who owns County Durham-based The Feel Good Group, says tanning shops should be allowed to reopen as they do not involve close contact and two metres social distancing can always be maintained.
But tanning shops have been placed in the same category as beauty salons meaning they must remain closed.
The chief executive is now threatening legal action against the Government after demands for clarity from the Business Secretary Alok Sharma went unanswered.
He said: “Legal action is a last resort but we are prepared to take this all the way.
“If the Government is unwilling to come to the right and reasonable decision to let our shops open on Saturday, along with hair salons and pubs, then we are left with little option but to seek a ruling through the courts.”
Mr Mooney has written to Business Secretary Alok Sharma and his local MP Paul Howell, in an attempt to overturn the Government’s decision to keep tanning salons closed beyond July 4.
The Darlington-headquartered company is one of the largest operators of its kind in the UK with over 90 tanning salons and employing more than 400 people across the country.
Mr Mooney believes furloughed staff are being treated unfairly and could be safely allowed to return to work immediately.
All ‘Tanning Shops’ have been closed since March 23 in accordance with Government guidelines, Mr Mooney says owners are now keen to help staff return to work.
But their application has been rejected because the Government has retrospectively classed the shops in the same category as beauty salons, which are currently banned from re-opening.
The company states that services provided by The Tanning Shop are not close-contact and the manner in which they are provided doesn’t involve any proximity issues with customers and two metres social distancing can always be maintained.
Further, the company said that the interaction time between customers and staff, which are invariably single staff stores, is limited to two minutes processing time.
Mr Mooney added: “We have taken legal advice and it is clear in our mind that the restriction to our business activity is manifestly unreasonable, unjustifiable and inconsistent with the Covid-19 regulations and is having a serious, material, impact on the viability of our business and the 400 jobs associated with our company.”
He said the business activity of The Tanning Shop was never classified within the wider personal care and beauty industry because it is not a “close proximity” business, such as “spas” or “tattoo parlours” which will have to remain closed for the time being.
“It is now absurd that an activity, which incurs less physical contact than that of a hairdresser, and arguably provides a more socially distant venue, is required to remain closed for a longer period,” he added. “We believe that as a result of this update, the stance on the classification of our business activity has now become untenable and is legally, ethically and politically unsupportable.”
The company has sought urgent clarification from the Government and is keen to be able to facilitate the return to work of its 400 employees and the reopening of its retail outlets in a manner that is consistent with the Government’s objectives to “help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs”.
Mr Mooney says the Business Secretary must look at the conflicting guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and that of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: “We are taking a phased, cautious approach to reopening our economy in a way that protects customers and workers.
“We intend to allow these businesses to re-open as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, businesses can continue to access our extensive package of financial support to help them through this difficult period.”