Re-think urged over 'essential product' policy in Wales

Forcing supermarkets to stop selling 'non-essential items' is a step too far from the Welsh Government, it has been claimed.

Aisles of products sealed off in Tesco in Welshpool.
Aisles of products sealed off in Tesco in Welshpool.

Wales is currently in the first week of its 'fire-break' lockdown, and controversy has erupted over the Welsh Government's move to block supermarkets from selling certain products.

Stores across Mid Wales, like those in the rest of the country, have blocked off aisles leading to DVDs and clothes, while in an extraordinary situation, Tesco has apologised for stopping the sale of women's sanitary products at a store in Cardiff.

The firm said the situation had been an error, and that the aisle was closed temporarily due to a break in.

Welshpool County Councillor Graham Breeze said the Welsh Government should reconsider the policy on essential products.

He said: "I think it is a step too far and needs urgent consideration.

"I can understand completely some of the things behind it – so other stores were not disadvantaged by it, but I think it has gone a bit too far in defining what is essential and what is not.

"There is so much in there, it is impossible to decide what is essential and what's not."

He added: "It is causing confrontation in stores too – that is the risk, people are getting really annoyed."

Aisles of products sealed off in Tesco in Welshpool.

Councillor Breeze said there was a concern that the situation could lead to people on the border travelling into England to shop instead.

He said: "It is putting pressure on people to break the rules. Particularly in the border area where it is easy to pop to Shrewsbury or to Oswestry. People may be tempted to travel to get something they cannot get here.

"It needs a re-think and quickly.

"I am fully behind the two-week lockdown to see if we can slow things down. If it saves one life it is worth it and if it is taking pressure off the NHS so they are able to cope going forward it will be a process we will all be glad to have happened but I think they have just overstepped the mark.

"When alcohol is deemed essential and some other things are not there is something not right."

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said meetings would be held with the supermarkets to make clear they could use "some discretion" to sell non-essentials to those in "genuine need".

He added that "common sense" should be used and there would be a "very small number" of cases where there would be a genuine need to buy a non-essential item in a supermarket.

The situation comes as Dyfed Powys Police also took to Twitter to deny that it was 'patrolling the border' after reports in the national media.

A post from the force's twitter account said: "We’re *NOT* patrolling the border.

"We’re out there across our road network and in our communities... all over the place!

"Truth be told, we’re really hoping that we can all WORK TOGETHER to do what we’ve been asked to do. That doesn’t make news though."

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News