Mark Drakeford can’t see decision on allowing crowds at Six Nations matches for another two weeks
The First Minister has said that he can’t see a decision on allowing crowds at Six Nations matches for another two weeks.
Mark Drakeford said that he wanted to see the “tide turn on the Omicron wave” before rethinking restrictions and said that if the “model is accurate” they would see a peak in 10 days to two weeks which would “allow greater social mixing”.
He has faced political pressure to ease restrictions on outdoor gatherings from the Conservatives, who have said that Wales should be able to play Six Nations games with crowds at the Principality Stadium.
“The decision about where to play matches are for the WRU to make,” he said. ” We would all far prefer for those hames to go on in Wales. The issue is whether we could do that safely.
“I make no criticism of WRU for looking at all the options in front of them,” he said. But he added that there were “undoubted risks” about playing games in England while still in the “eye of the storm” of Covid-19.
He added: “The principle Welsh Gov will follow will be that as soon as we think it is safe to lower restrictions we will do it. We will do it at the earliest, safest opportunity.
“We can’t expect those numbers to turn the corner in the next 10 days to two weeks. We can expect them to keep rising rapidly. In those circumstances, we won’t add to the risks by allowing larger numbers to gather.
“But as soon as the wave passes and comes down that is when we will lift some of those protections.”
He said that the risks at the events were “left at the events itself”, it was “how people travel to the stadium, how they gather around the stadium” and that there were “further measures that could mitigate those risks”.
He added that he wanted to put “on record” his appreciation for the way the Welsh Rugby Union had conducted themselves during the pandemic.
“They made the decision to call Wales v Scotland right at the start of the pandemic before the government asked them to do that,” he said. “It was them that made Principality stadium available to be a Nightingale Stadium.
“The record of the WRU is one they have balanced their obligation as a business wth the part they want to play to ensure Wales stay safe during this public health emergency. I’m sure they will continue to strike that balance in the best possible way. ”
The position over the next 10 days to two weeks is not one in which restrictions are easing, he said.
“It is not until we pass the peak, which will feed through into reducing pressure on critical care services,” he said.
“I don’t anticipate that over the next fortnight we will be in a position to move away from restrictions. But when we see that corner being turned, that will be the point when we can assess whether we can lift the restrictions in place so far.
“If we see after two weeks cases coming down then we will be able to rethink the restrictions that we have at the moment and see a path towards raising them in future.”
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