‘England is the global outlier’ on Covid restrictions – not Wales – says Mark Drakeford
England is the global outlier on Covid-19 restrictions, not Wales, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford was asked at today’s press conference why Wales was continuing with restrictions while Prime Minister Boris Johnson in England had decided not to introduce them.
The First Minister has confirmed that current restrictions will stay in place in Wales for at least another week, despite the Omicron variant not being “as severe as feared”.
Asked why he wasn’t falling into line with England, he said: “I would put the question in the opposite way. The outlier here is not Wales.
“Wales is taking action as are countries might across Europe, and the globe. The one country that stands out is England. The question is not why is Wales not following England, but why is England such a global outlier in governments protecting their populations.
“Here in Wales, we have a government that is capable to act and determined to do so when necessary, in England we have a government that is politically polarised. The Prime Minister can’t take the action his advisors have told him to take.
“Even if he could get his Cabinet to agree with them, he couldn’t get them past his MPs.”
He said that it was “easy to see” that other parts of the world were going “far beyond” the measures Wales was taking.
“The Prime Minister has decided to ‘ride it out’ as he has said, as he doesn’t have any other political options,” he added. “The advice shows consistently that an enormous wave of Omicron is coming your way, and here are the actions that could be taken.
“In the end, it is politicians that must decide on the advice that they are given. But there is no doubt that the advice the UK Government has had is one that asked them to take action rather than sit back and just allow things to happen.”
Mark Drakeford also suggested that he could not take restrictions any further because he needed financial support from the UK Treasury.
“Despite repeated efforts to get the UK Government to act in that responsible way – by ourselves and Scotland and Northern Ireland – we have not had the answer we thought we were entitled to expect,” he said.