Coronavirus: Minister would like shops to open on 22 June

Signage reminding shoppers of social distancing rules in a River Island store in Liverpool, as shops make preparations to reopen following the introduction of measures to bring England out of lockdown.Image copyright
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Shops in England, such as this one in Liverpool, are expected to open on Monday

Wales’ Economy Minister Ken Skates said he would “absolutely” like to see non-essential retail open in Wales on 22 June if coronavirus statistics continue to fall.

Non-essential retail has been told to prepare for a potential reopening, but has not been given the definitive go ahead.

Mr Skates said it would be a “very welcome boost” to the economy.

It is dependent on the R number – the rate of transmission, he said.

“If the R number were to creep back up to 1.2, at that moment we would likely see the loss of an additional 8,000 people in the UK.

“But of course if we do have that headroom next week when we can consider the [next] review point, then non-essential retail will be foremost in our minds.”

At the last lockdown review First Minister Mark Drakeford warned non-essential retailers to prepare for potential opening, “should the evidence” support it.

The next review is expected to be announced on 19 June – changes generally come into effect the following Monday.

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Social distancing is already being used by essential retailers

Currently the R rate is thought to be about 0.8 in Wales.

With non-essential shops and outdoor attractions set to open again in England from next Monday, there is pressure on the Welsh Government to follow suit.

Wales has not given precise dates on when different sectors may be released from lockdown.

Mr Skates said announcements on re-opening parts of the economy will not be made “on the hoof”.

He said the Welsh approach of making changes once every three weeks was helping to give certainty to businesses.

“We have the regular rhythm of review points in Wales so that enables us to make announcements every three weeks, giving certainty to businesses that no announcements will be made on the hoof and later potentially be retracted.”

He said this had been seen with zoos, with “legislation being enacted in England to keep them closed, and yet this week an announcement they will re-open”.

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