By Evie Andreou
SEVERAL stores will operate as normal on Saturday despite a plea by the union of small shop owners POVEK to the Archbishop to intervene so that all shops outside of tourist areas remain closed on the public holiday.
Due to an omission in the latest decree on extended shop hours issued by Labour minister Zeta Emilianidou, valid between May 13 and November 30, August 15 is not included in shop holidays, thus businessmen have the right to operate their shops on that day of they chose to.
The day when the Dormition of Virgin Mary is celebrated, is considered a grand religious holiday in Cyprus, when most locals choose to go on their summer vacation, as the majority of public sector offices and businesses usually close for the whole week.
POVEK urged Emilianidou and Archbishop Chrysostomos to step in so that shops do not open on Saturday, as they claim the omission serves the interests of the large store owners.
The Labour ministry, however, said that Emilianidou is not able to amend the decree, since she was stripped in March of the authority to issue or alter decrees on shopping hours, without permission from parliament.
It is only after a House vote that the decree can be changed, the ministry said. The legislature however is on summer recess.
It is business as usual for several big companies that said they will remain open on Saturday, including Lidl, Alphamega and Debenhams, with normal shopping hours. Athienitis supermarket in Nicosia said it will be closed.
Apart from the shops that household and food items, several clothing stores located in malls will remain open, while the Jumbo toy store chain said that only the outlet in Paphos will open on August 15.
According to the Labour relations department at the ministry, even though August 15 is a working day for shops, it is still a public holiday for the employees, who will have to be paid double their normal hourly rate if they are called to work. It added that they cannot be forced to work on that day if they don’t want to and that checks will be in place to make sure employers comply.