London appeals to businesses to stay open on Monday for queen's funeral

Fears that many businesses will be shut as the capital faces an influx of mourners

Members of the public wait in line to pay their respects to the Queen Elizabeth II, in London on September 15, 2022. The late monarch will lie in state until 5.30am (GMT) on September 19, a few hours before her funeral, with huge queues expected to file past her coffin to pay their respects. AFP
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London is appealing to businesses to stay open for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral amid concerns that hospitality closures will cause disruption for visitors to the city.

At least a million people are expected to travel to the capital for the late monarch's lying in state and her funeral, which takes place at Westminster Abbey, central London, on September 19 at 11am.

Mourners travelling to London by train for the queen’s funeral are being encouraged to stay for lunch to avoid overcrowding on the rail and tube networks, although this may be scuppered by mass closures for the bank holiday.

The Greater London Authority, which oversees the governance of the capital, has reportedly urged businesses to keep their doors open for the event.

The authority has privately advised that “it would be helpful if hospitality businesses in London, particularly in our city’s centre, could be ready to open their doors to the guests arriving over the coming days and on the day of her majesty’s funeral”, according to the Financial Times.

The death of the queen has resulted in widespread public mourning and prompted many businesses pledging to close on the day of her funeral as a mark of respect.

Most hospitality venues are expected to stay open on Monday, but to what extent is not clear.

McDonald's said it would close all of its restaurants across the country until 5pm to allow customers and staff to "pay their respects".

Fridays, the restaurant chain, said it would close at 3pm to "reflect on the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and observe this significant moment in history".

Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Asda are the latest retailers to confirm they will shut outlets on Monday.

M&S said it will close stores and also halt deliveries to customers to allow employees to pay their respects.

Stuart Machin, chief executive at M&S, said: “All of us at M&S ― and indeed across the country and beyond ― feel a real and deep sense of loss and sadness at the passing of her majesty, as well as huge respect for the grace with which His Majesty King Charles III and the wider royal family have led the nation in our mourning.

“It is right that we make changes to our operational arrangements on the day of the funeral to ensure our colleagues across our stores and distribution network can participate, whilst supporting customers as they show their respects too.”

He said there will be “limited exceptions in London and Windsor”, where M&S will serve customers paying their respects to the queen.

It comes a day after Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi all confirmed they would shut their supermarket stores for the day of the funeral, with fashion retailers such as Primark also confirming closure plans.

Retailers are not required to shut their doors on the day of the funeral, and others may choose to open for reduced hours, as many regularly do on other bank holidays.

Centre Parc, which operates numerous holiday resorts in Britain, was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after saying it would require guests to leave their properties on Monday as part of the bank holiday. It later said that guests wold be allowed to stay at its parks but would be required to stay in their rooms.

Updated: September 15, 2022, 3:09 PM