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Retailers want more heads up from Welsh Government over Covid changes

21 Jan 2021 3 minute read
Shopper wearing a face mask due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Picture by Nickolay Romensky (CC BY 2.0).

Retailers have complained that the Welsh Government is introducing widespread changes aimed at tackling Covid-19 without enough advanced warning.

A representative trade body said that new requirements came in yesterday with no advance notice of when changes that businesses had to make immediately would be introduced.

The Association of Convenience Stores said that Welsh ministers should work in closer collaboration with retailers when they introduce new measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

The new measures were proposed by first minister Mark Drakeford last week, but little detail was provided and there was no set timeline for the introduction of the new rules before the full regulations were published yesterday morning, they said.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Local shops in Wales have already been implementing many of the new measures that have been set out in the amended regulations to keep customers and colleagues safe throughout the pandemic.

“However, the new specifics around controlling entry to the premises and sanitising trolleys require additional resources and staff time which for many of the smallest stores is not something that can just be implemented straight away.

“The lack of communication from the Welsh government means retailers are now reading regulations and trying to devise stop-gap solutions rather than focusing on helping customers and colleagues, and maintaining Covid-safe sites – something they have done superbly over the past year.

“We need better consultation and some notice period to allow stores to prepare.”

‘Working closely’

Under the new regulations all retail stores in Wales are required to:

  • Introduce measures for controlling entry to the premises and limiting the number of customers who are on the premises at one time
  • Provide hand sanitisation products or handwashing facilities for use of customers when they enter the premises
  • Introduce measures to sanitise any baskets, trolleys or similar containers provided for use by customers on the premises
  • Remind customers to maintain distance of 2m between each other and wear a face covering. This should be done by displaying signs and other visual aids and making announcements on a regular basis.

First Minister Mark Drakeford had announced the new measures on Friday last week.

At the time he said: “We are working closely with employers, trade unions, Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider the detail on how to keep work settings safe.

“Ministers have also met this week with key retailers to discuss their vital role during the pandemic. They set out the actions they are taking from providing sanitisers for hands and trolleys on entry; limiting the numbers in store at any one time; and making regular announcements reminding people to keep their distance from others.

“We will strengthen regulations to ensure retailers take these steps so that their premises are as safe as possible for shoppers and their employees alike. Many are already operating high standards and we need to raise the bar for those who could and should improve.

“However we all have a personal responsibility to help make shops as safe as possible. We all need to shop alone if we can, observe the 2m rule, practise good hand hygiene and wear a face covering unless exempt. Any abuse directed at store employees who remind people of their responsibilities will not be tolerated.”

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