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Welsh government to review ban on selling non-essential items after backlash

George Martin
·2-min read
PENARTH, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 24: Non-essential items such as electricals are covered up in a Tesco store on October 24, 2020 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. Wales entered a national lockdown on Friday evening which will remain in place until November 9. People have been told to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must shut. Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools can return at that time under new "firebreak" rules. Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household are banned. (Photo by Polly Thomas/Getty Images)
Non-essential items covered up in a Tesco store in Cardiff. (Getty)

The Welsh government is set to review a ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items after a furious backlash.

More than 34,000 people have signed a petition urging first minister Mark Drakeford to repeal the ban, which came into force under the firebreak lockdown announced last Friday.

Supermarkets in Wales have been told they must only sell essential items to discourage people from spending more time than necessary in shops.

Certain sections of supermarkets are also being "cordoned off or emptied, and closed to the public" during the two-week period, including areas selling electrical goods, telephones, clothes, toys and games.

But Drakeford said on Saturday that the policy would be reviewed after it was heavily criticised.

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 23: Non-essential items are blocked off in a Tesco supermarket on Western Avenue on October 23, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. Wales will go into a national lockdown from Friday until November 9. People will be told to stay at home and pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must shut. Primary schools will reopen after the half-term break, but only Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools can return at that time under new "firebreak" rules. Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Barriers around non-essential items in a Cardiff Tesco. (Getty)

Drakeford tweeted: "Thank you for all your efforts over the last 24 hours to stay at home. We know people are fed up.

"It's not easy, but we all have a responsibility to stop the virus spreading.

"We'll be reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied.

Read more: English drive-in cinema’s toilets out of use because they’re located in locked down Wales

"Supermarkets can sell anything that can be sold in any other type of shop that isn't required to close. In the meantime, please only leave home if you need to."

On Sunday, Wales's health minister Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government had "worked with supermarkets" and discussed which items are covered by the ban on non-essential retail.

"We'll talk to them again on Monday so everyone understands the position we're in to have some clarity," Gething told BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

Watch: Ban on selling non-essential items supermarkets to be reviewed

He said the ban was in place to ensure fairness to businesses that are closed during the 17-day lockdown and reduce the opportunities for people to "go out and mix".

When asked if the ban would cause people to shop on Amazon, Gething said that almost all retailers had an "online offering as well".

"Online retail is permissible because that doesn't involve mixing," he said.

"So we haven't cut down people's opportunity to buy goods in any form, it's the in-person activity that matters."

It comes after a 28-year-old man was charged with criminal damage and contravention of coronavirus regulations after an incident at a Tesco store.

North Wales Police said Gwilym Owen, from Anglesey, has been further charged with several public order offences.

He is due before magistrates on Caernarfon on November 24.

Video posted to social media from Friday showed a person at a Tesco store in Bangor pulling plastic sheeting from shelves.

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