Coronavirus: Backlash over Wales ban on buying ‘non-essential items’ in supermarkets

Shoppers in Wales took to social media to express their frustrations over a ban on supermarkets selling items deemed “non-essential” during the country’s “firebreak” lockdown.

Many people called into question the choice of products that had been earmarked as not crucial, which reportedly included clothes, shoes, toys and bedding.

Pictures surfaced on online social platforms showing items like books covered over with plastic sheets and whole sections of supermarkets taped off.

One social media user expressed anger over the fact that baby clothes were deemed non-essential in one store, while alcoholic beverages including vodka and beer were available on the shelves of the same supermarket.

By Saturday afternoon, over 30,000 people had signed a petition demanding politicians reverse the restrictions.

Petitions that get over 5,000 people to support them are then debated in the Senedd – the Welsh Parliament.

The Welsh government said on Twitter the measures it had introduced were “not for the sake of being difficult”.

“Supermarkets can keep selling items you can find in other essential shops – such as stationery/greeting cards,” it added.

“The purpose of selling essential items only during firebreak is to discourage spending more time than necessary in shops and to be fair to retailers who have to close.”

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Some on social media backed the argument that authorities had introduced the rule to protect smaller businesses.

“If clothes shops on high street are told they must close it’s unfair on their business if Tesco can open selling the same thing. The small shops are losing out whilst Tesco has published increased sales and profits throughout the pandemic,” a Twitter user wrote.

“So, the supermarkets have to stay open because they sell food. Why should they be able to sell items other shops can’t because it’s a pandemic?” another said.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford tweeted on Saturday evening saying the government would b”e reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied.”

“Supermarkets can sell anything that can be sold in any other type of shop that isn’t required to close.”

Wales entered a 17-day coronavirus “firebreak” lockdown on Friday evening, with pubs, restaurants and nonessential shops will shut, along with libraries and community and recycling centres.

The government also put a stop to people from different households meeting up whether inside or outside.

It came as many European countries reimposed measures to combat rising coronavirus cases.

Wales saw 182 reported cases of the virus per 100,000 people in the last week.

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