Health Minister defends allowing Caerphilly pubs to open while county borough is under lockdown

Welsh Health Minister Vuaghan Gething. Picture by Davmay48 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething has defended allowing pubs to stay open in Caerphilly while home visits and travelling in an out of the are are banned under a new local lockdown that will last until October.

Gething said that the data he had received showed that it was while socialising in people’s homes and not socially distancing that the number of Covid-19 cases in the area had risen.

He was responding to comments by Dr. Jennifer Rudd asking “Why the heck are pubs staying open in that area though? It seems insane and undermines your ‘covid is serious’ point.”

“I’ve seen comments like this,” he said. “It’s important to act where transmission is taking place and it isn’t pubs – it’s socialising in people’s homes and not following the rules on social distancing.

“Pubs need to follow the rules to remain open and Caerphilly County Borough Council will be checking compliance.”

In the daily press conference, Vaughan Gething said people should only visit pubs with members of their extended household, and that he would consider restrictions if the transmission in pubs became an issue.

In Caerphilly, only single households should visit pubs together, he said.

A range of new measures will come into force today at 6pm in a bid to reduce the number of new coronavirus infections:

  • People will not be allowed to enter or leave the Caerphilly County Borough Council area without a reasonable excuse;
  • Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops;
  • People will only be able to meet outdoors – meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed for the time being. No overnight stays will be allowed.

 

‘Broken down’

Vaughan Gething said new restrictions on the 181,000 people living in the county would last for weeks, at least into October.

It comes after a spike in cases, with 98 people testing positive in a week.

The Welsh Government said, with 55.4 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population, the county had the highest rate in Wales and one of the highest in the UK.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Vaughan Gething said: “Even a week ago we comfortably had the lowest rate of coronavirus of any of the UK nations. We’re now in a position a week later where we’ve seen a significant spike in activity.

“If we don’t address the issue in Caerphilly, we’ll see wider community transmission within the Caerphilly area but that will spread to other areas as well.

“We’re in this position largely because social distancing has broken down and in particular people are socialising in each other’s households in larger numbers.

“The reasons for the local lockdown are a spike in transmission that if left unaddressed will go out of control and will see more people get it, will see more people in hospital, will see more people seriously unwell and will then have national consequences.”

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