RESIDENTS, retailers and hospitality traders have been reacting to the news of a Welsh Government U-turn on a five-day Christmas “relaxation period”.

On Saturday First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a sudden Tier Four lockdown restriction for Wales, which then started at midnight.

Traders said they had no warning, with some scrambling to extend their opening hours for the day.

All non-essential shops and other services such as gyms have now closed, while hospitality traders can only serve takeaway food.

The previous Christmas restrictions – allowing two households to mix in a bubble for five days – will now only apply on Christmas Day.

Jason Payter – owner of Windsor Tea Rooms in Penarth town centre – said the new rules mean tens of thousands of pounds have now been lost.

Penarth Times: The First Minister made the announcement on SaturdayThe First Minister made the announcement on Saturday

“We have been preparing for our busiest week of the year, and put a lot of money on food and drinks,” he said. “We were looking forward to a good period of trading.

“Then very suddenly on Sunday my phone started buzzing and it became apparent we’d lost it all.

“It’s not ideal but if the government is convinced it will save lives then it’s something I’m not going to oppose.

“I’ve decided we will be completely closing – it’s not viable for us to open as a takeaway service.

“My concern is that it seems like it [the lockdown] could last until April. It certainly seems as though we’re in it for the long haul this time.”

Karen Dunlop, who owns Umpa Lumpa Sweet Shop and is a key organiser of shop local scheme Shop Penarth, said the lack of notice has had an impact on morale in the town.

Penarth Times: Karen DunlopKaren Dunlop

“We totally understand the dangers and the decision, but we’d have liked more notice,” she said.

“There are so many traders who have to pre-order stock before Christmas – and especially for hospitality a lot of that stock you can’t keep.

“It was utter shock [when she found out on Saturday] and very upsetting. I could have cried after all the work our staff have put in.”

Umpa Lumpa will be operating a delivery service to try and compensate for the closure.

Nick Osborne, owner of Wasons DIY store – which will be staying open – says he feels “we’ve returned to uncharted territory”.

Penarth Times: Nick OsborneNick Osborne

“I feel very sorry for our retailers because we’ve gone back into the unknown again which we didn’t anticipate,” he said.

“Many retailers have now been left in a very unfortunate situation, and I hope they will receive further support from the government.”

Penarth mother-of-two Jemma Yorke – who along with husband Michael has put a lot of effort into maintaining community spirit through a town advent trail this month, said she is trying to stay positive for her children.

“We’ve had to change our plans so many times in recent weeks,” she said. “I’m one of three siblings and I won’t be seeing any of them this Christmas.

“My in-laws and parents are vulnerable so we’ve decided we’ll be spending Christmas as just the four of us.

“The upsetting part is the timing just before Christmas. I’m very conscious lots of parents were saving their big present shopping until pay day.

“I think we were all hoping 2021 would see the end of the pandemic, but this just seems to be quite brutal confirmation that that’s not going to be the case. I don’t think it was hugely surprising to many people, but to hear it officially felt quite sobering.

Penarth Times: L-R: Michael, Austin, Jemma and MillieL-R: Michael, Austin, Jemma and Millie

“We’re doing our best to stay upbeat for the children, because they don’t really know the impact of this. It’s not fair on them for us to be down during Christmas.”

Mr and Mrs Yorke’s advent trail around Penarth is continuing as planned, and people can view the houses involved until January 5.

Dinas Powys resident Liz Richards says she’ll now be spending Christmas with her husband after the new rules were announced.

“We’d usually go and see my sister but we’re all in the vulnerable category, so we’ll be staying put,” she said.

“We feel fortunate to have a very good selection of village shops – including Glenn Griffiths [the local butcher] who has been brilliant and is delivering what we need.

“It’s been crucial for us because even as vulnerable people we couldn’t get any supermarket delivery slots for Christmas.

“My worry is that a lot of these independent shops might have to close if this one [lockdown] lasts a long time. We have lots of nice independents here that I worry about.

“I don’t disagree with the decision as such. It reminds you how tenuous life is. And because of that, while we’ll be spending Christmas as just us this year, I’ll be doing my best to make the most of it – and hoping that we’ll be all together again next year and this will all be over.”