By Elias Hazou
REGULATIONS governing shops’ opening hours are to be tabled to the House next week, labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said yesterday.
The regs stipulate allowing shops to operate on Sundays from 11am to 7pm, except for the Famagusta area, where longer hours will apply.
Holidays will be observed as under the existing law, said Emilianidou.
The government was forced to draw up comprehensive ordinances on the matter, after parliament had earlier stripped the Labour minister of the power to issue decrees regulating shop opening hours in designated tourist areas.
Under the previous system, the minister issued decrees on an ad hoc basis allowing shops in tourist areas to operate on Sundays from 11am to 7pm and have extended hours during the rest of the week.
The last decree expires on April 30, meaning that past that date the issue of shop opening hours would have been thrown into limbo, since the minister is now unable to issue further decrees.
Speaking to reporters, Emilianidou said the regulations will also address workers’ rights, such as how much time off they are entitled to.
The aim is to ensure that the 7,000 people who got jobs, due to the introduction of extended shopping hours, get to keep them.
Retail trade has increased by 2 per cent since the measure was introduced two years ago, according to official statistics.
“Moreover, shoppers have embraced this [extended shop hours],” added Emilianidou.
Main opposition AKEL argues that extended hours benefit large retailers at the expense of small businesses, which cannot compete.
The retailers association, however, contends that the measure has been a success.