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Conservatives slam Welsh Government ‘U-turn’ on early re-opening of non-essential retail

12 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Andrew RT Davies

The Conservatives have criticised the Welsh Government for what they are calling an “U-turn” on re-opening non-essential retail in Wales.

The First Minister announced this morning that shops already selling essential goods could begin selling non-essential ones from 27 March.

But non-essential shops would not open up completely until the same date as England – 12 April – he said.

There had been indications earlier in the week that the re-opening of non-essential shops was imminent, although no firm dates had come directly from the Welsh Government.

CBI Wales had said last Friday that they had been asked to help distribute reopening guidance ahead of the expected date on Monday 15 March.

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said at the time: “With transmission rates heading in the right direction and incredible progress being made on vaccination, non-essential retailers and close contact service providers will be looking to the prospect of a mid-March reopening with huge sense of relief.”

The First Minister had also said on Sunday that “we’ll look to see whether we can take the first tentative steps in re-opening the economy in non-essential retail.”

Responding to the Labour Government’s latest lockdown announcement, Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies MS said that shops had had their hopes raised and would be disappointed.

‘Frustration’

“We await the full details, but it appears Labour have missed another opportunity to provide clarity and a detailed roadmap out of lockdown for people across Wales,” he said.

“Labour’s U-turn on the opening of non-essential retail at such short notice will be a hammer blow for many businesses, and the decision to now align with England in that area shows we could’ve adopted a similar roadmap weeks ago.

“The ongoing refusal by Labour ministers to do so will only increase frustration in the sectors worst hit by the pandemic and will put more Welsh jobs at risk.

“People in Wales fully understand the pandemic can change course and Labour ministers need to start treating us like adults, cut out the political games, and provide a clear path and roadmap forward.”

‘Contempt’

Jane Dodds Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats also questioned the “science and logic” behind the decision to allow supermarkets to resume selling goods deemed non-essential from Monday yet keeping non-essential retailers, including many small businesses, shut until 12th April.

“By keeping small retailers closed while allowing supermarkets to undercut them, Mark Drakeford and Labour are throwing many small shops and high streets under a bus,” she said.

“Mark Drakeford have been briefing for weeks that retail could open up after 15 March. Businesses have been making preparations and incurring costs. This last-minute U-turn risks people’s businesses and livelihoods. The Welsh Labour Government has treated the High Street with complete contempt.

“Welsh Liberal Democrats will always put recovery first, and that means backing the high street.”

The Welsh Government also includes Wales’ sole Liberal Democrat Senedd Member, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams.

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