Mark Drakeford says he ‘completely rejects’ claims by UK minister that his restrictions are damaging Wales’ economy
The First Minister has said that he “completely rejects” claims by UK Ministers that restrictions in Wales are damaging the nation’s economy.
Mark Drakeford was asked by Trevor Phillips on Sky News what he made of suggestions that the Welsh economy would suffer as a result of restrictions on sports and hospitality in Wales.
A number of Conservative MPs had criticised Wales’ restrictions in the House of Commons this week, with Michael Fabricant and Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones among those saying they were “damaging” and “harming” the Welsh economy.
But the First Minister said that public health and the economy could not be separated.
“I completely reject the way in which UK ministers try and play the economy off the needs of public health,” he said.
“If we don’t attend to the public health needs, the economy is simply affected in a different way.
“So we see very large numbers of people unable to be in work, not confident to go out to restaurants and shopping and so on.
“So the measures we take to protect public health are exactly the measures that protect the economy.
“Now our modelling shows that within about two weeks we will begin to pass the peak and as we come down that is when we will begin to look past the current protections.”
The First Minister also rejected a suggestion that Wales’ restrictions were failing as “Wales currently has a higher incidence of Covid despite the restrictions”.
Comparing Wales and England’s case rates is “misleading” according to Mark Drskeford.
“Well, actually, I think it’s a misleading comparison, because there are parts f Wales that are much lower than other parts of Wales, and parts of Wales that are much lower than hotspots in England,” he said.
“So comparing the whole of Wales and the whole of Egland simply doesn’t get to where the real nub of the issue lies. We are trying to make sure that we protect Wales from the onslaught of the Omicron variant which has moved east to west, comping into Wales later than in parts of England.
“Our rates are still lower than English hotspots and we’d like to do our very best to keep it that way.”