Daniel Hannan, who served as Tory MEP for South East England from 1999 until the UK left the EU in 2020, has sparked debate on Twitter by sharing images of covered up non-essential items on supermarket aisles. Pictures show plastic covering six-foot high aisles for a range of items, including best selling hardback books and pillows.
One image shows orange fencing, typically used to isolate roadworks, separating shoppers from the ‘home’ section of a store.
Supermarkets in Wales are unable to sell non-essential items, such as clothes, during a 17-day Covid-19 firebreak lockdown.
Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford has stressed businesses are only able to open parts of their business that sell “essential goods”.
Shops including supermarkets, pharmacies and off-licenses are allowed to remain open.
Supermarkets sealed off sections
The idea was made by the Welsh Government
The lockdown began on Friday at 6pm.
Accompanying Mr Hannan’s posts, which have been liked and retweeted more than 3,000 times, he writes: “How is this supposed to slow the infection rate? Or is it just some weird Labour anti-capitalist thing?
“This isn’t about the coronavirus at all, is it? It’s just a general dislike of consumerism.
“Labour is badly misjudging this. Even the WHO is now anti-lockdown, and public opinion, after seven months, is finally turning.
“Labour has embraced lockdown populism at the very moment it ceases to be popular.
“If you want an idea of what Britain would look like if Labour were in charge, look at Wales, where the party is fully indulging its anti-commercial instincts.”
The Association of Convenience Stores and the Welsh Retail Consortium have written to the first minister because they have concerns over the new rules.
Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said the Welsh Government should abandon the “essential items” law.
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The Welsh Conservatives raised concerns
She added: “Compelling retailers to stop selling certain items, without them being told clearly what is and what isn’t permitted to be sold, is ill-conceived and short-sighted.”
James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said the regulations were badly thought out.
He added: “Retailers must not be forced to stop making products available to customers just because ministers don’t think they’re essential.”
Tory MPs have also been critical of the decision, with Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies tweeting: “The power is going to their heads.”
Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies has shared a petition titled: “Allow supermarkets to sell ‘non-essential’ items during lockdown”.
At the time of writing, it has already attracted more than 17,000 signatures.