Sports Direct to stay open during coronavirus lockdown after defying PM’s order

Bosses at Sports Direct say all stores will remain open because the store "sells essential fitness gear, making it a vital asset" during the UK's national shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In an email seen by the PA news agency, Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, wrote to all workers within 30 minutes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to shut down all non-essential retailers.

Finance chief Chris Wootton wrote: "We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home…indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself.

"Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

"Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the Government's current social distancing guidance).

"There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown banning people from leaving their homes except for specific purposes.

This includes shopping for necessities, exercise, medical needs and commuting to work if you are unable to work from home.

The police have also been given powers to disperse any public gatherings of more than two people, excluding those that you live with.

In addition to this, all public events have been banned apart from funerals.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, there have been 6,650 cases in the UK and 335 death.

Other nations such as China, Italy, France and Spain have gone into a national lockdown, banning its citizens from leaving the house unless essential in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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