Wales and Ireland close non-essential shops in new lockdowns

Wales and Ireland close non-essential shops in new lockdowns

Non-essential shops, including bookshops, in Wales and Ireland are to close in fresh lockdowns announced this week. 

In Wales, the so-called “firebreak” lockdown will start on Friday (23rd October) and last until 9th November. It will see pubs and restaurants also shut their doors with people advised to stay at home. Gatherings of more than one household both inside and outside will also be banned. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the lockdown would be "a short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time".

In Ireland, restrictions similar to the first national lockdown will come into force from midnight on Wednesday. The rules, in place for six weeks but reviewed after four, will see people asked to stay at home and non-essential shops told to close.

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin said: "I understand, and I feel very personally and profoundly, the sense of disappointment, the feelings of loneliness, perhaps even the despair that this announcement will bring for many.

"The days are getting shorter and colder but I ask you to remember this. Even as the winter comes in, there is hope and there is light.”

Northern Ireland imposed its own tighter restrictions last week, with hospitality venues closing but most shops allowed to remain open.

Mel Griffin, who runs Griffin Books in Penarth, said she was concerned at the new Welsh restrictions, which come at a time when business has been as good, if not better than the same period last year.

She said: "We're obviously concerned about the potential impact of the national lockdown just announced for Wales, but are hoping we'll be able to continue receiving deliveries and fulfilling online orders.  Our online events programme will of course continue uninterrupted."

However, Tim Batcup, who runs Cover to Cover in Swansea, said he was optimistic because the lockdown was so short. He said: "Obviously this lockdown I saw coming a mile off but as it's only two weeks I'm not too stressed about it really. I think it's the right thing to do. I'll do what I did in lockdown which is basically hammer social media, hand deliver books, have a bit of fun online – I've almost got my stock online anyway – and then of course is coming on.

“So all the channels are open as it were. How the customers respond we'll see, but it is just two weeks. A lot of my business is customer orders for the next day but if I've got say it's going to be another week people will understand I think.”

Heidi Murphy, Chair of Bookselling Ireland, said of the country's lockdown: “The news, by the time it broke, was expected and has ended weeks of speculation and uncertainty. Our message to the book-lovers of Ireland is bookshops are open. We know how important book-reading was to people during the initial lockdown. We know that customers want to shop early and we know that people are shopping earlier than ever for Christmas.

"Bookshops will rise to the challenge and via phone, email, website and social media will be taking orders for delivery or click and collect for their immediate area to continue to supply Ireland’s book lovers. Bookshops will also be supporting the An Post freepost service to care and nursing homes and will be on hand to help their customers choose the best books to send to loved ones that they can’t be with.”

In England, Liverpool and Lancashire are the only areas to be placed under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions so far, although Greater Manchester may join them later today (20th October) if a dispute between local leaders and the Government is resolved. The restrictions do not require shops to shut but bars and pubs not serving meals must close along with sports facilities, betting shops and gyms. People must not mix with other households and are advised to stay in their local area.