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The BBC’s Andrew Marr savaged Labour’s Vaughan Gething as the Welsh health minister struggled to defend the bizarre lockdown rules. Wales, which is run by Labour, has imposed a 17-day ‘firebreak lockdown’ to crack down on a coronavirus spike in the country. As part of the lockdown rules, supermarkets have been banned from selling non-essential items, leading to shelves full of lightbulbs, kettles and baby clothes being covered up in plastic sheets.
This policy has sparked a fierce revolt among Welsh residents, prompting the largest petition ever submitted to the Welsh Parliament, the Senedd, with nearly 50,000 signatures.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has admitted that the ban on the non-essential items will be reviewed after the weekend.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr took Mr Gething to task over the “hugely unpopular” and “absurd” policy.
He grilled the Welsh health minister, asking: “This policy is proving to be hugely unpopular across Wales.
“By tomorrow morning, you will have to tear it up and start again, won’t you?”
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Mr Gething responded: “No, we are reviewing with supermarkets tomorrow the clarity of the policy because there has been different applications in different parts of Wales.
“We recognise this is hard for lots of people but we are in a week where we have had 61 deaths here in Wales.
“A month ago, there was only six deaths in Wales, so coronavirus is taking off and we are seeing more people lose their lives.
“We need people to stay at home and follow the firebreak because we need to break chains of transmission and make sure we don’t see our NHS overwhelmed.”
Mr Marr fired back at the senior Labour politician, saying: “Welsh people going into supermarkets see baby clothes, kettles, light bulbs, books, taped off and forbidden to be bought.
“That seems completely absurd to them.”
The BBC host also brought up the response from the Welsh retail consortium, which claimed the supermarket ban had “restricted the flow of movement, impacted social distancing and increased risk and harm to our colleagues and customers”.
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Marr added: “It isn’t working and it is hugely unpopular.”
The Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies had earlier called for the Senedd to be recalled for an urgent debate on the matter.
Mr Davies said: “This is absolute madness by the Welsh Government, preventing people from buying the products which they want to buy.”
North Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones echoed this, claiming the move would only enrich online internet giants at the expense of high street retailers.
He said: “Personally I think the Welsh government decision to ban the sale of non-essential goods in shops that also sell essential goods is wrong and the only people that will benefit will be online sellers like Amazon.
“Bad move on this occasion by Mark Drakeford.”
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