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EDITORIAL VIEW: Don’t trample on our hope


Shutting down all non-essential retailers in Wales is a staggering over-reaction to rising cases in the principality and show just how deaf our elected leaders are to the contribution businesses are making to keep the economy afloat while protecting employees and customers.

The first nationwide lockdown proved that shuttering people in their own homes, instructed only to go out to shop for food or medicines, will flatten the curve of covid infections, hospital admissions and deaths, all of which are desirable outcomes.

However, a 17 day “firebreak” will do far more harm to the economy and the nation’s mental health.

The issue for me is trampling on people’s hope. It is hope that helps us endure tough times in the expectation that things will improve.

The Welsh government argues that it is giving people hope of a more normal Christmas.

Given we are now 8 months into an emotional rollercoaster, that promise will ring hollow for every citizen confined to their homes again after enduring more than 3 months of confinement in the spring.

Jewellers could not have been more responsible since re-opening in June, and this applies to every retailer on every high street and every retail park and shopping centre.

There are masks, visors, one-way systems, plexiglass screens, sanitisation stations, distancing and cleaning of every watch or item of jewellery after it has been handled by a customer.

I used to be a reporter on the computer industry, and have visited semiconductor manufacturing clean rooms that are dirtier than your average high street jeweller in Wales.

It staggers me that surveys show public support for the firebreak. I live in London, not Wales, and cannot find a single person who thinks it is a good idea and will work in any meaningful way.

It can only be that there is a predisposition to believe the advice of government and a natural fear of getting sick and dying that over-whelms the logic that the virus will not retreat, never to return, after 17 days.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that Wales becomes New Zealand by mid-November and (so long as it isolates itself from the rest of the world) stays that way.

But I know this is not what will happen. Instead, the only certainty is that jewellers that have behaved impeccably throughout this crisis will be closed unnecessarily and it will take a many more weeks for people’s confidence to rise enough for them to go back to normal shopping.


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