Drakeford promises ‘review’ of non-essential item ban as 30,000 sign petition to overturn it

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture from a Welsh Government video.

The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that they will “review” how the ban on selling non-essential items in supermarkets is going as a petition against the move reached 30,000 signatures.

The government said that supermarkets could keep selling items that can be found other essential shops, such as stationery and greeting cards.

The purpose of selling essential items only during firebreak was to discourage spending more time than necessary in shops and to be fair to retailers who have to close, they said.

“We’ll be reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied,” Mark Drakeford said.

“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.

“We know people are fed up. It’s not easy, but we all have a responsibility to stop the virus spreading.”

A petition against the “disproportionate and cruel” measures was signed by over 30,000 people within its first 24 hours.

The Welsh Conservatives’ Health Spokesperson Andrew RT Davies had earlier called on Labour’s health minister to intervene and overturn the “ludicrous” ban.

“I have never witnessed such a fierce backlash against a decision from the Welsh Labour Government,” he said.

“This ludicrous ban has caused real anger across Wales and it’s not fair on those staff working in our supermarkets, and the general Welsh public who are already at their wit’s end with a difficult fortnight looming.

“Whilst the First Minister might not be for turning, the health minister Vaughan Gething must surely acknowledge the damage this will do to public confidence and I ask him intervene and tell Mark Drakeford and his colleagues that this has to be dropped immediately.”

 

‘Madness’

Those signing the petition against the ban included:

  • 7319 signatures in North Wales
  • 3215 signatures in Mid and West Wales
  • 7274 signatures in South Wales Central
  • 6616 signatures in South Wales East
  • 4123 signatures in South Wales West

The Vale of Glamorgan was the constituancy with the highest number of signatures at 1,269, and Dwyfor Meirionnydd the fewest at 312.

Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies meanwhile said he had written to the Presiding Officer of the Welsh Parliament calling for the parliament to be recalled.

Currently, Members of the Welsh Parliament are in the October half-term recess.

“Since the First Minster let it slip that the selling of non-essential items would be banned in all shops during the Wales-wide lockdown there has been anger across Wales,” Paul Davies said.

“It is madness that people have been banned from buying books, bins and baby clothes in local shops. The Welsh Labour-led Government may not think these items are essential, but many will beg to differ.

“The Wales-wide lockdown is disproportionate, unnecessary and biting our economy hard. I’d rather see people being able to buy items in shops in their communities that provide employment to local people than see millions spent at online internet giants.

“The petition calling for the end of the ban has been signed by tens of thousands of people across Wales in a short period of time. It’s a clear sign to Labour Ministers that people want this rule scrapped immediately and the Welsh Parliament must meet to resolve this matter as soon as possible.”

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