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Covid lockdown: Wales' businesses divided over circuit-breaker

By Catherine Evans
BBC News

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image copyrightSarah Baker
image captionCafe owner Sarah Baker said adapting to change without notice was the main challenge for businesses.

Businesses across Wales are "struggling to plan" as talks continue over a "fire-break" lockdown.

The Welsh Government said a decision was likely to be made on Monday over a short, limited lockdown lasting at least two weeks to slow down the virus.

Discussions between health officials, scientific advisors and councils are being held this weekend.

While some businesses said everyone should "be in the same boat", others disagree.

Sarah Baker, owner of the Lot 11 cafes in Mold, Flintshire, and Wrexham, said the hardest thing for businesses was "trying to adapt to everything".

image captionSeventeen areas in Wales are under lockdown

"The public look to us for answers and ring us to ask what they should be doing. But we get told the same time as everybody else," she said.

"Some days I think 'yes let's just have a full-on lockdown for three or four weeks and come out the other side'. The other side of me thinks 'let's learn to live with it and be as vigilant as we can'."

In the meantime, she is waiting, along with the rest of Wales, for the Welsh Government's decision.

"If it happens does it mean we have to close or be takeaway only? We're waiting for the call to see what we can do."

image copyrightGareth Burns
image captionGym owner Gareth Burns says the mental health of his customers could suffer if he has to close

'I 100% disagree'

Gareth Burns, who runs N-Mac Gym and The Castle Vaults pub in Newtown, Powys, said he understood arguments to close or restrict pubs because "it's very hard to control people under the influence".

But when it comes to closing gyms, he said: "I 100% disagree. We have about 400 members and some of them almost had mental breakdowns the last time we closed for lockdown. They rely on the physical exercise, but also community.

"The people I'm concerned about is the people aged 18 to 60-years-old at my gym - the government is forgetting about them and focusing on protecting the 85-year-olds. There should be a compromise for both."

He added local lockdowns should remain instead of a national "fire-break".

"I don't see why rural mid Wales should be punished. What's quite concerning for businesses is that we can't plan."

image copyrightAlison Ball
image captionBusinesswoman Alison Ball questioned whether the circuit-breaker would work

'There should've been one rule for the four nations'

Alison Ball, of Alison's Clothing Alterations in Denbigh, said: "I think they should carry on with local lockdowns. They should have closed the border between England and Wales at the start.

"It's hard for the government to make decisions but is a circuit-breaker going to work?

"I think they should've had one rule for the four nations instead of competing against each other."

image copyrightLottie Dixon
image captionFlorist Lottie Dixon says all counties should be "in the same boat"

'It's fairer to all be in the same boat'

Lottie Dixon, 31, who owns The Bloom Room florists in Monmouth, said: "The difficulty for me is planning anything.

"I've got a wedding booked for next Saturday and the bride is terrified she's not going to get married - she's already had to cancel one wedding. If the wedding's off, I have to deal with the cost of the flowers.

"If I get classed as a non-essential business and have to close, what will I do?

"It's frustrating because in Monmouthshire we're not on local lockdown at the moment. But a pan-Wales approach is better in the long run. It's fairer to all be in the same boat."

Carol Davies from Harts lingerie shop added: "Short and sharp is by no means guaranteed to work, as it took three months last time of much more severe restrictions than those currently proposed.

"Local lockdowns nearby have already been hugely damaging to business."

The Welsh Government said local and national measures have "kept the spread of the virus under check" but there was "a growing consensus" that new restrictions were needed as coronavirus spreads.

A spokesman added: "We are actively considering advice from Sage and our TAC group.

"A 'fire-break' set of measures to control Covid-19, similar to that described in the SAGE papers, is under consideration in Wales. But no decisions have been made."

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