The hospitality industry should be able to “hibernate” over winter and receive higher financial support, Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS has said.
Mr Price was speaking ahead of the announcement on new restrictions on hospitality that is expected from Welsh Government.
On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed new restrictions on the hospitality and entertainment sectors and conceded it may have been a mistake not to impose stricter curbs following the “firebreak” lockdown.
Mr Drakeford has said that this does not mean a return to “firebreak rules”, but he did say that cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close, on top of the extra restrictions on hospitality.
The Plaid Cymru leader said the Welsh Government must introduce “targeted support” for Welsh business to allow them to “effectively hibernate” over winter.
Mr Price said that the “crippling uncertainty” that comes with locking and unlocking was doing “untold damage” to the hospitality industry.
He called for the support to be focused on Welsh-based firms rather than UK corporates and repeated the party’s calls for a mass testing programme and increasing financial support to those who have to self-isolate to £800.
“At the start of a crucial week – particularly for the hospitality sector – the Welsh Government must introduce targeted support for Welsh businesses to allow them to effectively hibernate over the winter,” Adam Price said.
“Businesses are telling me that the crippling uncertainty that comes with locking and unlocking is doing untold damage to their industry.
“By keeping retail and leisure open, and by focusing the support on Welsh-based firms rather than UK corporates it is possible to increase the level of support for the hospitality sector above what is currently available so we can all return to supporting our local Welsh businesses next spring.
“The Government must also accelerate its testing programme making it truly a mass exercise in all parts of Wales. This would turn what is currently a pilot scheme into a national priority. And when people are asked to self-isolate, the financial support offered to them must be increased to £800 per person.
“So many people have sacrificed so much – we must all redouble our efforts in working together to suppress the virus and avoid an endless cycle of lockdowns”
Mr Drakeford has said that he believes a whole Wales approach to the restrictions will work best because the rate of infections was going up in 21 of the 22 local authorities.
He said: “We have a single-tier in Wales and as we came out of the firebreak period we were convinced by the evidence we had seen that a single-tier was the best way to communicate what we were asking from the people of Wales.
“We need a national system because it is a national effort.”
Welsh Conservative health spokesperson Andrew RT Davies said that new restrictions were an admission from the First Minister that the firebreak had not worked. He also disagrees with having a single tier approach to the restrictions.
He said: “Only two weeks after the end of the firebreak, the First Minister has announced that cinemas, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues will close in Wales at the end of next week while there will be new restrictions in the hospitality industry.”
“It will be a blanket nationwide approach that absurdly throws in low-medium incidence areas such as Conwy, Ynys Mon, Gwynedd, Denbighshire, Powys and Pembrokeshire in with high-incidence areas in Wales.
“This is sadly an admission from Labour’s First Minister that his firebreak lockdown did not work, which we did predict. Regrettably, he is now doubling-down. There are huge differences in incidence rates across Wales and a blanket nationwide approach is unnecessary and unfair.”