Non-essential retailers in Wales could reopen before English businesses, says First Minister
Non-essential retailers in Wales could reopen sooner than businesses over the border in England, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
The UK Government announced last week that shops in England would be able to reopen from April 12 as part of the country’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The Welsh Government has been criticised in some quarters as it has yet to provide a firm date for when stores can start to trade again.
But Mr Drakeford said he believed Wales could be quicker in allowing businesses to reopen.
Speaking at a press conference at lunchtime today, he said: “There are no plans in England to begin the reopening of non-essential retail until well into April.
“I think the chances are that we will begin the reopening of those businesses earlier here in Wales than across the border.
“The figures that I’ve set out today are still significantly better in Wales than across the border and that will give us some opportunities to reopen parts of non-essential retail.
“But I will think very carefully about how we do it so that we don’t have the opposite problem to the one that you’ve just described, which is that we have people coming into Wales because our shops are beginning to reopen from parts of England where coronavirus is still in greater circulation and where the instruction to people in England remains to stay at home.”
The default position with regard to shops in alert level 4 is that they should all be closed, unless they provide goods or services that are considered essential.
Examples of those currently allowed to open include food and drink shops, chemists and petrol stations.
Pressed further on how this would impact on people travelling over the border, Mr Drakeford said: “When we begin the reopening of non-essential retail, we will try and do it in a way that does not create honeypot circumstances in which people who cannot go shopping in their part of the United Kingdom would feel attracted to come into Wales.
“It’ll be careful, it’ll be cautious, it’ll be step by step and it’ll be very much with trying to avoid those circumstances because of the public health risk that they bring with them.”
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