Different Covid rules in Wales and England ‘understandable’ and ‘will continue’ says Sajid Javid
The UK Government’s new Health Minister, Sajid Javid, has said that the differences in Covid policy between Wales and England were “understandable” and “will continue” in the future.
He was speaking in the House of Commons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that almost all restrictions in England would be scrapped in two weeks’ time, on 19 July.
Wales will confirm on Friday next week if any further restrictions will be eased. The First Minister Mark Drakeford has previously said that some restrictions would likely remain into the autumn and perhaps beyond.
Sajid Javid was responding to a question from Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, who asked whether British transport police would enforce Welsh restrictions on cross-border rail travel.
“It is understandable that there has been a difference in approach between Wales and England, and clearly that will continue, but we will continue to co-ordinate,” Sajid Javid responded.
“I know that my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk [Matt Hancock], co-ordinated on a regular basis with his Welsh counterpart, and when it comes to transport, my Welsh counterpart and I will work carefully with the Secretary of State for Transport.”
His tone was different to that of Robert Jenrick, Boris Johnson’s Communities Secretary, who had said yesterday that he hoped the UK should “move as one” out of Covid-19 restrictions.
He said the Westminster government was going to “work with” Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to “try and be as coordinated as possible”.
Jenrick told the Andrew Marr show: “We would like the whole of the Union to move as one. We are going to work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to try and be as coordinated as possible.
“Cases are slightly different in each of the four nations but certainly in England, our view is that things are looking positive for July 19.
“We now have to move into a different period where we learn to live with the virus, we take precautions and we as individuals take personal responsibility.”
‘Following the data’
Wales’ Health Minister has said that Wales will “follow the data rather than the politics”, as the UK Government push for a full reopening by 19 July.
She said it was “very clear that we are still in a very difficult situation because case numbers are increasing exponentially in Wales”.
“Boris Johnson will do what is right for England and we will do what is right for Wales,” she said. She added that “time and time again deadlines have been set in England and missed”.
“In an ideal world we would like to move together,” she added. “But here we’ve been following the data and will continue to do that.”
She added that they would be considering the situation over the next few days for an announcement next week.
Easing in England
Boris Johnson earlier said that face masks will no longer be legally required and distancing rules will be scrapped in England on 19 July.
The rule of six inside private homes will be removed and work-from-home guidance will also be abolished.
“If we don’t go ahead now when we’ve clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the link… when would we go ahead?” he asked.
“We run the risk of either opening up at a very difficult time when the virus has an edge, has an advantage, in the cold months, or again putting everything off to next year.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has said that most restrictions are set to ease on 9 August but it may continue to require masks in certain settings.