Wales in the United Kingdom is under hard lockdown since 23 October until 9 November in response to a spike in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Authorities are hoping the so-called “fire break” lockdown that requires residents to stay at home for two weeks can break the chain of coronavirus transmission through reduced social contacts and social mixing.
Under the lockdown, residents have limited exemption to exercise and travel to work. Walk-in diners and shoppers are banned in non-essential shops, cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants. Dining establishments are only allowed to provide food for takeout or delivery.
Hairdressers and beauticians, leisure businesses, tourism firms, community centers, libraries and recycling centers are also closed. Local parks, playgrounds, childcare facilities and outdoor gyms remain open.
Primary schools and special schools are closed but can reopen after the half-term break. Secondary schools can reopen only for Year 7 and 8, with students taking exams allowed to attend.
University classes will continue online and in-person, but students will have to stay in their residences during the half-term holidays and reading weeks.
Gatherings are banned except for small-scale Sunday events. Places of worship will be closed except for funerals and weddings.
There was confusion though on the ban on sales of non-essentials by stores. The Welsh government guidelines provide that shops can sell products one can normally buy from food and drink stores, news agents, pharmacies and hardware stores.
However, there was an incident wherein a supermarket refused to sell sanitary products to a woman. In another incident, a woman, whose daughter was admitted to hospital on Saturday, was unable to buy new clothes to replace her pajamas “soaked in blood.” The mother was forced to drive 40 miles from home to get replacement clothes.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething on Monday said shoppers and retailers should use common sense in selling non-essentials to those in “genuine need.”
The public responded by starting an online petition last Friday morning that calls on ministers to overturn the rule preventing supermarkets selling items like clothes, toys and books during the two-week “fire break.”
The petition reportedly collected more than 19,000 signatures in less than 36 hours, indicating an unpopular protocol.
A local man, however, more effectively drove home the point that clothes are essential goods that should be allowed to be sold. He went to shop at a Tesco supermarket only wearing underwear and a mask.
Chris Nolden, 38, had a companion video him while pushing a cart toward the entrance of the supermarket. That was how far he could go though as the security guard stopped him for trying to purchase non-essential clothing.