Sports Direct has confirmed it will not open its stores to the public following a u-turn by the sportswear retailer.
Politicians had hit out at Sports Direct for keeping stores open after the Prime Minister ordered non-essential shops to close, with Labour's chairman telling company majority owner Mike Ashley to "take some responsibility" and "shut up shop".
Management justified keeping stores open on the basis that selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the company a vital asset during a national shutdown, according to 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 Boris Johnson's decision to shut down all non-essential retailers.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery questioned the decision, tweeting: "Who on earth does Mike Ashley think he is? He's prepared to endanger the life of his employees and the public at large."
The Wansbeck MP added that selling sports equipment "is not an essential service", while Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said Sports Direct staying open could potentially be "putting vulnerable people at risk".
"Take some responsibility SHUT UP SHOP" Mr Lavery concluded.