BRITS have been left baffled as winter clothes, stationary for home-workers and even cleaning supplies have been deemed 'non-essential' under the new Welsh lockdown.
Wales went into a 17-day firebreak shutdown at 6pm on Friday – and under the measures, stores are now unable to sell a range of items to customers.
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But the decision to tape off items including kettles, children's clothes, warm jumpers, birthday cards, duvets and mops has sparked fury.
It comes as:
- Sky New's Kay Burley clashed with a Welsh minister over essential items
- Revellers in Cardiff hit the town for one last night before the 'firebreak'
- Nicola Sturgeon revealed a strict five-tiered coronavirus system for Scotland
- Warrington is set to join Tier 3 next week with the toughest restrictions
- All areas of Britain have got an R rate above 1
Major supermarkets including Tesco, Lidl and Sainsbury's have used barriers to block aisles and tape to mark off unavailable items.
The terms of the new measures are far harsher than the original March lockdown – when supermarkets weren't banned from selling any items.
And many in the country have now lashed out at Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Hundreds of people have taken to social media to voice their fury.
So, what does count as ‘essential’ in Wales?
Welsh people can buy products that would normally sold in:
- Food and drink retailers (including off licences)
- Building supplies and hardware stores
- Pharmacies and chemists
- Bicycle shops
- Petrol stations
- Garages and vehicle hire businesses
- Post offices, banks, building societies and similar
- Pet shops
- Agricultural and aquacultural supplies shops
- Livestock markets and auctions
- Batteries, light bulbs and rubber gloves may continue to be sold.
The rules state: "Businesses which would normally sell a range of products in their stores may only sell those items which fall into the categories above.
"This is likely to mean some areas of stores should be closed to customer access. It will be important though for such stores to manage access to different categories of goods in a way that ensures customers and staff can circulate safely within the store.
"Some products may need to remain available to avoid creating unnecessary constraints on a mixed product aisle to the safe circulation of customers."
Town councillor Stephen Ellis, who represents Cheadle West, said: "If you're already buying 'essential' things in the same shop, what difference does it make if you buy a 'non-essential' item – especially as you've forced all other shops to close?
One social media user tweeted Mr Drakeford directly, writing: "You make wine/alcohol essential, but clothes and kettles that are used everyday non-essential."
He accused the official of going "power mad".
One mum shared a photo of taped-off mops, adding: "Welcome to Wales, the only place where in the midst of a pandemic, cleaning supplies can be deemed a non essential purchase.
"Madness. Someone, somewhere surely has the ability to stop this now, please?"
Jessica Tilley wrote: "The photos of supermarkets in Wales covering up 'non essential' items is giving me the creeps.
"So you can't buy stationary if you're working from home. You can't pick up a book, or a winter coat.
"You can't pick up a birthday card to post to family that you're not allowed to visit."
Another said: "Words fail me.
"How is a microwave not essential for someone if theirs breaks?
"Same with a kettle? Or a duvet/blanket with the weather getting colder?
"Yet again it's the people struggling financially that are hit the hardest… definitely not 'in this together' in Wales!"
All non-essential shops, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels must shut altogether during the restrictions, which come into force today at 6pm.
Food shops, off-licences, pharmacies, banks and post offices are allowed to remain open.
Mr Drakeford has attempted to defend the strict measures.
He said: "It is a straightforward matter of fairness – we are in this together here in Wales.
"No individual and no organisation is above the effort that we are all required to make.
"That includes people who may believe that they themselves are beyond the law, and includes those organisations that are large and powerful."
What are the rules in Wales?
People living in Wales will now have to:
- Follow strict stay at home orders
- Pubs, restaurants and all non-essential retail will be closed
- No meeting with anyone outside your household
- No alcohol sales after 10pm
- Leisure centres and services, including gyms, will have to close
- Professional sports will be able to continue
- Hairdressers and beauty services will have to close
- No gatherings will be allowed outdoors including Halloween and fireworks on Bonfire night
He told a press conference in Cardiff that any suggestion that the ban, which was announced on Thursday, was based on his own politics was "nonsensical".
He said: "We are requiring many hundreds of small businesses to close on the high street right across Wales.
"We cannot do that and then allow supermarkets to sell goods that those people are unable to sell.
"And we are looking to minimise the amount of time that people spend out of their homes during this two-week period.
"This is not the time to be browsing around supermarkets looking for non-essential goods."
The lockdown falls over the half-term holiday and extend for a week beyond that.
Primary schools will reopen as normal after the break and kids in secondary school in Year 7 and 8 will be able to go to school.
All other students will have to go back to home learning.
Mr Drakeford stressed that children were the "top priority" and childcare centres would be able to stay open throughout.
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