Shopper tears plastic sheets from 'non essential' items in Wales supermarket

A man has been filmed rampaging through a Welsh supermarket, tearing off coverings from clothes rails after the Welsh Government said they were not essential goods. 

The footage has emerged amid anger and frustration over the ‘confusing’ policy which has seen large sections of supermarkets fenced off due to the country’s ‘firebreak’ lockdown. 

Many shoppers awoke to discover their local store had taped up or covered over items including clothes, stationary and cleaning supplies because they’ve been deemed ‘non essential.’

The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the rule, saying it was a ‘matter of fair play’ because other shops have been forced to close entirely.

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Gwilym Owen, 27, claimed the regulations were ‘immoral and inhuman’ and vowed to ‘take a stand’ against them.

He was filmed tearing apart wrapping covering children’s clothes saying ‘it’s a disgrace, we’re coming into winter now.’

Gwilym – who was not wearing a mask – adds: ‘All you need to do is not comply.’

The footage ends with security staff approaching Gwilym as he shouts ‘since when has clothing not been essential.’

In a post on Facebook afterwards, he said: ‘I had enough last night. I don’t care about the backlash that I may get from this.

‘I heard supermarkets have put covers over “non essential” things such as clothes. We’re heading into winter now and who would have thought clothes for children weren’t essential?

‘I’m sure there are people out there who can barely afford heating in their houses and now they want to stop people buying clothes in supermarkets.’

He added: ’I don’t expect everyone to do what I’ve done here but I do expect everyone to know that denying the public clothing is nothing but immoral and inhuman. So no I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done.

‘I’m not prepared to live in a society where they can take basic human needs away like being able to buy new clothes, especially for children. So I’ll do what I can to stop it.

‘I’ve had it up to my tether with what’s going on and we need more people to take a stand for what is right! This was my stand.’

The taped off aisles have been met with a mixture of shock, bemusement and astonishment across the country. 

One Twitter user, Philippa Smallwood, said: ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous what is going on in Wales btw. Supermarkets having to tape off aisles as it is not essential items. Pretty sure that if you are isolated for 17 days and your kettle packs in, you should be able to buy a new one.’

Another tweet shared a picture of mops and brushes being fenced off with the caption: ‘Welcome to Wales. The only place where in the midst of a pandemic cleaning supplies can be deemed a non essential purchase. Madness. Someone, somewhere surely has the ability to stop this now, please?’

Lucy Heath, said: ‘How is a microwave not essential for someone if theirs breaks? Same with a kettle? Or a duvet/blanket with the weather getting colder?

‘Yet again it’s the people struggling financially that are the hit the hardest…definitely not “in this together” in Wales.’

Brands have criticised the Government for not giving them enough time to implement the changes while it still remains unclear what is deemed an essential item. 

The legislation lists shops that can stay open including food and drink stores, pharmacies, post offices, pet shops and hardware stores. 

Shops that offer a mixture of items can only sell things that these ‘essential’ shops stock and anything else is banned. 

Andrew RT Davies, shadow health minister for the Welsh Conservatives, criticised the ban while appearing on Sky News.

He said: ‘I never thought I’d live in an era where aisles in supermarkets were blanked off because you couldn’t buy hairdryers or you couldn’t buy baby clothes, or toys for children, when the store is open.’

But Health Minister Vaughan Gething has defended the ‘firebreak’, saying it gives people the ‘best chance’ of seeing each other over Christmas.

Speaking about the damage caused by Gwilym in one of its shops, a spokesperson for Tesco said: ‘Under new restrictions set out by the Welsh Government, we are currently unable to sell ‘non-essential’ items in our stores. Our colleagues have worked hard to put these measures in place and we ask that customers please respect these restrictions.’

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