News in brief: Scotland and Wales overruled London on latest travel restrictions

Scotland and Wales overruled London on the introduction of travel restrictions for people coming from France, the Netherlands, Aruba, Malta, Monaco and the Turks and Caicos according to a report in the Financial Times.

The newspaper says that Scottish and Welsh ministers insisted that quarantine measures should be introduced from 4am today.

UK Government officials had wanted the restrictions to come into force from 4am on Sunday to give travellers more time to return to the UK.

Officials said ministers in London agreed to move the deadline forward as they were keen to act in “unison” and remove any confusion for travellers returning to different parts of the UK.

 

Speaking at her daily coronavirus press briefing on Friday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Where we have a situation where we think the situation in a particular country has deteriorated, we can’t then hang around before we impose quarantine.”

The Welsh government declined to comment on the report.

Public Health Wales has confirmed one further death due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours. The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic is now 1,587.

There have been 27 new case, taking the total number of confirmed infections in Wales to 17,543. On Friday 5,733 tests for Covid-19 were carried out.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Price rejects defence of A-level results process

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has rejected First Minister Mark Drakeford’s defence of the Welsh Government’s handling of A-level results following an exchange of letters yesterday.

With exam’s cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, grades were based on teachers’ estimates but were then put through a standardisation process, which resulted in just over 42% of Welsh A-level students having their results downgraded.

In his letter Mr Price wrote: “Mistrust in the system couldn’t have been communicated louder by students, teachers and even Welsh Labour’s own back-benchers. Pupils who were awarded lesser grades than the teacher assessments in A-level and AS exams should be upgraded to the teacher assessment grades. If this approach is being advocated by the UK Labour leader in England, why is the Labour First Minister in Wales so stubbornly against?”

Defending the results, the First Minister replied: “If we were to do as you suggest over 40% of student’s in Wales would have been awarded A or A* grades. This would have devalued the award and undermined the hard work of so many students and teachers. You may be aware of the UCL research on the difficulties associated with teacher predicted A-level grades.

“Thanks to the decisions of the Welsh Government, AS Levels (as externally assessed exams) continue to contribute 40% of the total marks. This is not the case in Scotland or England. We have guaranteed that no A-level grade this year will be lower than the student’s AS grades.”

Mr Price responded: “Students continue to develop, especially at this age, and to say that the AS Level results should be a guide while brushing away their own teachers’ assessments is perverse. Many students opt to re-take their AS exams to try to improve on their results – the Welsh Government is condemning them to those lower levels by its decision.”

“I would rather trust in teachers than an algorithm when it comes to a fair assessment of how a pupil would perform in an exam. The First Minister, in refusing to acknowledge the thousands of personal injustices that will have resulted from the use of a flawed and impersonal ‘standardisation’ formula, is defending the indefensible.

“After a difficult and stressful time for many students, this Welsh Government has added to that stress for many thousands of Welsh youngsters.”

Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Mandatory face covering will be part of local lockdown measures

The Welsh Government’s position on making face coverings mandatory in more settings has been clarified in a written statement from the First Minister, who indicated they will be part of the temporary measures introduced if local lockdowns are put in place.

Currently face coverings are only compulsory on public transport in Wales but people are also advised to wear them in public places when they cannot socially distance.

During a live Facebook question and answer session earlier in the week Mark Drakeford said, “… I want to be clear with everybody that if the virus begins to circulate again in Wales and we think it is right to make them mandatory in shops or other settings we won’t hesitate to do so.”

In the statement published yesterday he wrote: “When it is necessary, we will require the use of face coverings in more settings as part of a planned response to any incident or outbreak.

“This change will be part of a package of measures we might introduce in an area and will be lifted when the situation improves, and it is no longer proportionate on public health grounds.

“The position on supermarkets is unchanged and we positively recommend wearing face coverings in crowded settings where social distancing is difficult.”

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