Welsh supermarkets have been ordered to only sell ‘essential goods’ to customers during the country’s 17-day lockdown.
Stores will be told they are unable to sell items such as clothes to shoppers, and to prioritise other products deemed to be more important.
It means a likely return to the scenes witnessed at the beginning of the pandemic when there were rows over the contents of people’s shopping trollies.
Welsh supermarkets have been ordered to only sell ‘essential goods’ to customers during the country’s 17-day lockdown
First Minister Mark Drakeford said it will be ‘made clear’ to supermarkets that only certain parts of their business will be allowed to open in order to sell essentials
Many retailers will be forced to shut during the ‘firebreak’ lockdown, when it begins on Friday at 6pm, but food shops, off-licences and pharmacies can stay open,
First Minister Mark Drakeford said it will be ‘made clear’ to supermarkets that only certain parts of their business will be allowed to open in order to sell essentials.
Welsh businesses have been given mere hours to put together plans for the lockdown, which will run until November 9.
The move has sparked anger among opposition figures, however, with Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies tweeting: ‘The power is going to their heads’.
Mr Drakeford told a Senedd committee on Friday that ‘in the last lockdown, people were reasonably understanding of the fact that supermarkets didn’t close all the things that they may have needed to’.
‘I don’t think people will be as understanding this time.
‘We will make sure there is a more level playing field in those next two weeks.’
The First Minister said he would keep the principality closed down for as short a time as possible, but insisted it was necessary to act as a breaker to a ‘rising tide’ of cases – despite Wales having a lower rate of infections than England.
The decision to impose a ‘short and deep’ lockdown until November 9, which echoes national demands made by Sir Keir Starmer and wipes out Halloween and Bonfire Night, sparked a furious political backlash.
Data showed England had a coronavirus infection rate of 166 per 100,000 people in the week of October 14 while Wales had a rate of 163 per 100,000.
Welsh Tories said it was dooming the country to an endless cycle of two-week lockdowns while Conservative MPs in Westminster said it was a ‘blunt instrument’ and ‘closing down the whole of Wales is disproportionate to the level of risk in some parts of the country’.
At the start of the pandemic, hordes of shoppers descended on supermarkets at the crack of dawn in a desperate bid to stock up after weeks of panic-buying cleared food aisles across the country.
Pleas from the government and retailers to consider other people and steer clear of panic-buying had been largely ignored, with those who did exercise restraint forced to flock to stores well ahead of opening times to make sure they didn’t leave empty-handed.
Individual stores took action to curb the number of products people could buy, while police and private security were even drafted in to stamp out ransacking of high-demand items such as toilet roll.
Mr Drakeford said this week: ‘It is a very difficult time indeed and it’s why, in the end, we decided to go for the shortest possible period of a firebreak – a two-week period.
‘But if you’re doing it short, you’ve got to do it deep. There’s a trade-off there.
‘We could have gone for a longer period with slightly fewer restrictions but, in the end, the advice to us – partly because of the impact on people’s mental health – was that if you could keep this period of time as short as you could, that would help to mitigate that impact.’
Meanwhile, it emerged today that more than 1,000 Cardiff University students and three staff have reported testing positive for coronavirus with the NHS since the start of October and more than 2,000 are currently self isolating.
University figures show 730 students and three staff have reported failing an NHS test and the university’s own in-house asymptomatic test service has identified a further 292 cases among staff and students – bringing the total number of cases who have tested positive to 1,025.
The single daily total for positive tests was 164 on October 18 and 2,346 students were self isolating on that date. Of those self isolating, 235 reported doing so because they had symptoms.