New Zealand council scraps Easter Sunday plans for Ed Sheeran visit | Music | Entertainment

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For more than a century the people of Dunedin in New Zealand have observed the day by closing shops and restaurants to allow families to celebrate together.

But that is about to change after local businesses pushed politicians to let them take advantage of the pop superstar’s arrival in the city.

Religious tradition proved no match for the 26-year-old Briton’s pulling power as councillors voted to lift the ban.

But the move to suspend the trading restrictions has angered unions and religious groups.

The Thinking Out Loud singer, who was appointed MBE earlier this month, is set to play three gigs at the city’s Forsyth Barr Stadium with around 90,000 visitors expected – almost doubling the area’s population over the Easter weekend.

Dunedin City Council launched a public consultation on whether to allow shops to trade on the religious holiday.

After a favourable response, the council voted 10-5 in favour of changing the policy.

Mayor Dave Cull said it was an “exceedingly difficult call to make” given thousands of visitors would be in Dunedin over the weekend.

Councils across the country have had the power to allow trading on Easter Day since 2016.

Before that trading on the holy holiday was banned throughout New Zealand.

Both Auckland and Christchurch have voted against any change, although smaller towns and tourist areas have proved to be more open to lifting the restrictions.

New Zealand’s national trade union First Union claimed the council was putting the interests of retailers before the interests of retail workers.

Union spokeswoman Tali Williams said: “Our members were calling on the council to protect family time and keep Easter Sunday shop-free.

“Now pressure is going to go on retail workers to abandon plans with their families and instead turn up for another day of work.”



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