First Minister banned from town’s pubs over Covid-19 restrictions
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has been banned from some pubs in Conwy until May.
West Conwy Pub Watch has written an open letter to the First Minister telling him there will be no welcome for him in their part of town, on pain of being “ejected” from the premises.
The Welsh Government announced yesterday that they plan to ban alcohol in pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes across Wales from 6pm on Friday.
“All licensees have a legal duty under the Licensing act of 2003 to ensure that disorderly, argumentative, violent behaviour and antisocial behaviour does not occur on or around their premises and to prevent the occurrence of criminal offences,” the letter states.
“As a result of your behaviour on November 30th 2020 at the Senedd Cymru your actions class as Antisocial behaviour for the damage caused to our members premises.
“The licensees of the West Conwy Pubwatch have jointly decided that in order to discharge their duty as referred to above they are exercising their right not allow you entry to their premises.
“Should you attempt to ignore this notice and enter any of the licensed premises listed on our website the assistance of police will be sought, if necessary to eject you from the premises and an extra six months will be added to your ban.”
The letter came after the Tories accused the First Minister Mark Drakeford of ignoring hospitality industry leaders on Covid restrictions.
According to Darren Millar MS, the Shadow Covid Recovery Minister in the Senedd industry leaders in the pub and hospitality sector responded to an invitation from the Welsh Government to discuss impact of the new restrictions but have yet to be contacted.
Mr Millar also said that the “Wales-wide approach to these restrictions is disproportionate” and that “we need targeted intervention.”
The First Minister announced on Monday that pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes across Wales will not be able to serve alcohol and must close by 6pm from Friday.
Indoor attractions including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, soft play centres, casinos, skating rinks and amusement arcades, museums, galleries, and heritage sites, will also have to close completely.
First Minister said this is a response to a “stark” rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Wales.
He said the all-Wales seven-day incidence rate was 187 cases per 100,000 people last week, but today that had risen to almost 210 cases per 100,000 people. He added that by January 12 the total number of people with coronavirus in hospital in Wales could rise to 2,200 unless action was taken.
Sam Evans, Carlsberg Marston’s Regional Sales Director for Granada and North Wales, says he wrote to the First Minister on Friday after Mr Drakeford said he wanted to consult with the industry over the weekend.
Mr Evans today that he is yet to be contacted by the First Minister or Welsh Government officials but remains open to discuss matters with them.
He says he is “deeply concerned that all of Wales is being placed under further restrictions, especially in North Wales, given the numbers and statistics show good progress against this awful virus.
He added: “[Hospitality industry leaders] understand action is needed but why given the evidence of such low transition rates in hospitality are we again having to bear the brunt of restrictions.
“Is the whole Wales approach just a lack of understanding of the data on hand or an easy way out?
“So here I am, a senior manager from a major UK brewer, a resident of North Wales, a Welshman and freely available to consult with.”
Mr Millar said: “The First Minister claims to be consulting with the hospitality sector regarding the Welsh Government restrictions so it is strange that no effort has been made to reach out to a major business like Carlsberg Marston’s.
“The hospitality sector in Wales is already reeling from the Welsh Government’s previous restrictions so the new rules that kick in from Friday are a devastating blow to those businesses that have worked had to protect their staff and customers by implementing Covid safe arrangements.
“With one in 10 of the Welsh workforce employed by hospitality enterprises and with so many relying on pre-Christmas trade, the Welsh Government is now putting tens of thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk.
“The First Minister must explain to industry leaders like Carlsberg Marston’s why he hasn’t bothered to contact them to discuss his plans and the ramifications for their businesses.”
He added: “A Wales-wide approach to these restrictions is disproportionate, we need targeted intervention, that’s backed by science, and reflects the different levels of risk in different parts of the country.”
Deputy Economy Minister Lee Waters has defended the approach of the Welsh Government. He said that the alternative to the no-alcohol and 6pm closing rule for Welsh pubs was that they would have to close completely, as they had in Tier 3 parts of England.
Mr Waters also pointed to a list of restrictions that are due to be brought through in England when the lockdown ends there.
He said: “This is what the English Conservative Government is doing in most parts of England.
“The alternative [to Wales’ rules] was to close all hospitality, as is happening in English Tier 3 areas. We opted to keep hospitality open so people could continue to meet indoors, recognising important seeing people is for wellbeing.”
England’s hospitality rules mean that in Tier 3 areas bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or member’s clubs.
England’s Tier 3 restrictions cover much of the north of the country Bristol and parts of the south-east.
Under Tier 2 in England, pubs and bars may not provide alcohol for consumption on the premises, unless with a substantial meal, so they are operating as a restaurant. They may remain open for take-away services.
The First Minister has said the Welsh Government will provide £340m to support businesses affected by the new Covid-19 restrictions.
The first element of the package is a £160m restrictions business fund, that the Welsh Government says will support up to 60,000 businesses on the non-domestic rating list across Wales.
The second element is a £180m fund targeted at hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses.
“Businesses, including those in retail, tourism, leisure and hospitality, and their supply chains, which are materially affected by the restrictions will receive payments of between £3,000 and £5,000,” he said.
“Discretionary grants of up to £2,000 will continue to be available for those not on the non-domestic rating list.
“This fund will be delivered by local authorities. I am very grateful for their ongoing support and help to deliver this part of the package.
“The second element is a £180m fund targeted at hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses. It will provide grants of up to £100,000 for SMEs and £150,000 for larger businesses.
“The grants will be linked to the number of people employed and their operating costs with up to 10,000 businesses being supported.”