Supermarkets block off aisles selling non-essential items

Supermarkets have started to block off aisles selling “non-essential” items ahead of the fire-break lockdown.

From 6pm tonight shoppers will no longer be able to buy products such as clothing or homeware in line with Welsh Government supermarket rules announced on Thursday.

During the fire-break lockdown, which will run until November 9, the majority of shops will have to shut their doors as part of the rules to try and stop the spread of Covid-19. You can find the full list of businesses allowed to stay open here.

By reducing the items that supermarkets can sell, First Minister Mark Drakeford said it will help to create an “equal playing field” for independent businesses forced to close.

But supermarket giant Asda has said they have not been given enough time to make the adjustments, and have not received a list of what is or is not classed as an essential item.

Non-essential items are blocked off in Tesco supermarket on Western Avenue in Cardiff
(Image: Getty Images)
Tesco were given one day to make the changes
(Image: Getty Images)
Aisles blocked off in Tesco in Neath
(Image: Andrea-Louise Lewis)

A spokeswoman for Tesco said: “Our colleagues across Wales will be working incredibly hard today so we can comply with the Welsh Government’s ban on selling ‘non-essential’ goods to our customers from 6pm this evening.”

At the Tesco Superstore in Pontypool, a photo shows staff covering what appears to be a bedding aisle with clear plastic sheeting to stop customers from taking products off the shelf.

Meanwhile in Tesco Extra on Excelsior Road in Cardiff, large crates were blocking one entrance to the homeware department during Friday afternoon.

Staff were seen moving items in the toy and electricals department as an announcement over the tannoy system explained the changes coming into force at 6pm.

Tesco Extra in Gabalfa where crates have been moved to block one entrance to the homeware department.
(Image: Western Mail)
Restrictions in Neath
(Image: Andrea-Louise Lewis)
Non-essential Halloween items in Tesco on Western Avenue in Cardiff are removed

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Reacting to the new restrictions in place, the Welsh Retail Consortium said it was “disappointed” the decision to stop shops from selling non-essential items.

Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said: “This last minute guidance, whilst welcome, falls short of providing the level of certainty that our businesses have needed to manage and implement what is being expected of them.

“We fully support the drive to reduce the R number and bear down on the Covid infection rate, however we are deeply disappointed that the Welsh Government is forging ahead with an ill-conceived policy on non-essential products which will significantly and negatively impact essential retailers off all sizes, from supermarkets to corner shops.

“In spite of the dearth of Government clarity, our members’ focus now will be on equipping hard-working colleagues with as much information as possible given the undoubted uncertainty and complexity that has been caused by this decision.

“Our staff will always be our priority and we will work closely with them to ensure that they are not the ones that suffer from this disproportionate decision which is lacking in any scientific basis and which may give rise to frictions with customers”.

The clothing department in Tesco in Neath
(Image: Andrea-Louise Lewis)

Not all supermarkets, however, were seen making changes on Friday afternoon.

Clothing, toys and electrical items were still accessible at the Asda Superstore in Cardiff Bay as displays were being moved ready to block the aisles later on.

And supermarkets, including Sainsburys in Swansea, were open as usual as people shopped for their last buys before lockdown.

WalesOnline – Cardiff