Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily press briefing, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that non-essential retail businesses, which can comply with social distancing, should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.
A decision about whether non-essential retail will reopen will be taken at the next review on Thursday, June 18, and will depend on a review of the latest lifting of lockdown restriction, announced on Friday, May 29.
Mr Drakeford said: “I am signalling to businesses across Wales that they may begin preparations to be ready to resume activity in these areas should the evidence support reopening.
“This will allow us to restart activity as soon as possible if the conditions allow. We will continue to work closely with the public sector, trade unions, businesses, the third sector and others to achieve this.”
The decision follows concerns that further extending the lockdown will damage the Welsh economy more than is necessary. The move would see a marked shift away from the current lockdown measures, where only essential businesses are recommended to remain open.
There are concerns however that workers and employees may be asked to return to workplaces that aren’t able to put the required safety measures in place.
A spokesman for the USDAW, the union that represents shopworkers, told Caerphilly Observer: “We are warning non-food retailers not to open until they can guarantee staff and customer safety.
“We urge them to adopt the joint advice agreed with the British Retail Consortium (BRC). USDAW is calling on businesses to work with trade unions to carry out risk assessments in workplaces before reopening for business.”
When asked about employee safety, Mr Drakeford said: “Our employers must take all reasonable measures. We are working with unions to offer guidance that is practical but also gives workers and users confidence that they are safe.
“In Wales, we prepare and make things safe first, and then change the law, not the other way around.”
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