Mark Drakeford has branded the Conservatives “disgraceful” as he angrily dismissed the charge he is “punishing” the hospitality sector with covid restrictions.
The First Minister brought in restrictions, which include and ban on pubs and restaurants selling alcohol, following a spike in cases after the firebreak lockdown ended, and the Tories have been critical of the move.
In response to Laura Anne Jones, the Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales East, asking for the data the decision was based on to be published he accused the Tories of making “ridiculous allegations” and told them to recognise that the country is faced with a “public health emergency”.
The Conservatives have argued for a tiered approach, and MS Janet Finch-Saunders who wants Conwy to be exempt from the restrictions, and has labelled the all-Wales system a “draconian punishment”.
On the floor of the Senedd, Ms Jones said: “Will you agree to publish the data in the interest of transparency so that people can see the evidence on which these decisions were made?”
Mr Drakeford said: “I’m afraid the Conservative Party in Wales is in a disgraceful position in relation to this matter and that disgrace was very well illustrated in the Member’s question to me.
“In the face of the numbers that we see here in Wales, the grip of the coronavirus crisis in Wales, she consistently, as does her party, avoids their responsibility for facing up for that, and wants instead to make ridiculous, ridiculous allegations about sectors of the economy being punished in Wales.
“That sector is receiving £340 million of support from the Welsh Government, where her party in Westminster is providing £40 million for the whole of England.
“Here in Wales we work with the sector. We do our very best to be able to help them to deal with the consequences of this emergency.
“But this is a public health emergency and it’s time the Conservative Party in Wales really did recognise that.”
When the restrictions were announced, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, said: “This is going to be a real blow for countless hospitality businesses up and down the country, businesses that has suffered greatly over the last eight months.
“We now need to know the details from the Welsh Government because this will create an even more anxious and worrying time for businesses struggling to keep afloat.”
“As before, Welsh Conservatives are calling for targeted interventions, based on hyperlocal data, rather than blanket restrictions on all Wales.”