Following the revelation that shops permitted to open throughout the 17-day firebreak lockdown are being asked to only sell ‘essential items’, the Chair of the Cross Party Group on Small Shops - Janet Finch-Saunders MS - has hit out at the Welsh Government for its ‘misguided over-reach’ which has left many convenience store owners confused and at risk of abuse. Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives' Shadow Minister for Covid Recovery - Darren Millar MS - has labelled the move 'control freakery gone mad.'
The Association of Convenience Stores and the Welsh Retail Consortium have written urgently to the First Minister, expressing their alarm over the new rules. Retailers say they had not been given a definition of what was essential.
Commenting on the concern of convenience store owners, Janet said:
“I am incredibly alarmed by the First Minister’s comments, which amount to nothing more than misguided over-reach. Since the announcement of the firebreak lockdown on Monday, the Welsh Government’s calamity of communication has consistently left businesses owners confused and at risk of permanent closure.
“To announce an arbitrary restriction on the sale of non-essential products with less than 36 hours’ notice is wholly unfair, placing yet more unnecessary pressure on our small business owners and putting these frontline keyworkers at real risk of abuse. We should be standing with our businesses not placing ever greater hurdles in front of them.
“Research from Which has shown that almost half of residents who described themselves as 'situationally vulnerable' in Wales during the previous lockdown had difficulty accessing the food and groceries they needed. I do fear a repeat of this situation as a consequence of this confusion.
“With Wales' second national lockdown now imminent, it is totally unacceptable that our nation’s small shops still do not know what they can and cannot sell. They should be able to operate fully, without prejudice from this over-reach of the state. The First Minister must urgently rethink this strategy.”
Adding his comment, the Welsh Conservatives' Shadow Minister for Covid Recovery, Darren Millar MS, said:
"This is control freakery gone mad.
"The Welsh Government seems to take delight in taking away people’s freedoms and telling them what they can and can’t do. Now they are telling businesses what they can and can’t sell; it’s bonkers."
Notes to Editor:
- Please find the letter text from the Welsh Retail Consortium & Association of Convenience Stores, attached.
Photo: Mike Petrucci/UnSplash