Wales to review ban on sale of non-essential goods in supermarkets

Luke O'Reilly
·3-min read
Non-essential items are sealed off in a Tesco store in Pengam Green in Cardiff, Wales: Getty Images
Non-essential items are sealed off in a Tesco store in Pengam Green in Cardiff, Wales: Getty Images

The Welsh Government will review the ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during Wales’ firebreak lockdown.

It comes after First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted on Saturday that ministers would be “making sure that common sense is applied”.

On Sunday, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told the BBC that the ban will be reviewed following a petition signed by more than 50,000 people.

Mr Gething said the restriction, which has seen aisles cordoned off and plastic sheeting placed over products, had been applied differently in stores across Wales.

More than 50,000 people have signed a petition submitted to the Welsh Parliament calling for the ban to be immediately reversed.

More than 50,000 people have signed a petition submitted to the Welsh Parliament calling for the ban to be immediately reversed (Getty Images)
More than 50,000 people have signed a petition submitted to the Welsh Parliament calling for the ban to be immediately reversed (Getty Images)

Under the firebreak lockdown, which began at 6pm on Friday and will end on November 9, non-essential retail including clothes shops, furniture stores and car dealerships must close.

Supermarkets have been told they must only sell essential items to discourage people from spending more time than necessary in shops and be fair to retailers who have to shut.

Mr Gething told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “We’re reviewing with supermarkets the understanding and the clarity and the policy because there’s been different application in different parts.

“We all need to step back and remember why the firebreak has been introduced, to recognise that it is hard on lots of people, but we’re in a week where we’ve already seen 61 deaths take place here in Wales.

“Just about a month ago there were only six deaths in a week so coronavirus is taking off. We are seeing more people lose their loves.”

Certain sections of supermarkets must be “cordoned off or emptied (Getty Images)
Certain sections of supermarkets must be “cordoned off or emptied (Getty Images)

The ban on selling non-essential items was announced in the Senedd on Thursday after Conservative MS Russell George said it was “unfair” to force independent clothing and hardware retailers to shut while similar goods were on sale in major supermarkets.

The Welsh Retail Consortium called for the ban to be “dropped quickly” and warned it could result in the “safe flow of customers” being undermined due to changes in store layouts.

Guidance previously published by the Welsh Government said certain sections of supermarkets must be “cordoned off or emptied, and closed to the public” during the two-week lockdown.

These include areas selling electrical goods, telephones, clothes, toys and games, garden products and dedicated sections for homewares.

Under the firebreak rules, people can only leave their home for limited reasons (PA)
Under the firebreak rules, people can only leave their home for limited reasons (PA)

Under the firebreak rules, people can only leave their home for limited reasons, such as to buy food and medicine, provide care or take exercise, and must work from home where possible.

Leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses are closed, along with community centres, libraries and recycling centres, while places of worship are shut other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies.

On Saturday, a further 1,324 people were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 41,577.

Public Health Wales said 16 people with Covid-19 had died, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,772.

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