Plaid Cymru and Labour have clashed in the Senedd after a member accused the Welsh Government of failing to prepare guidelines in advance of imposing Caerphilly’s local lockdown.
Delyth Jewell, who is Plaid Cymru’s candidate in the Caerphilly constituency at next May’s election, said that people in the county borough had faced “24 hours of unnecessary stress that could have been avoided”.
She asked that details guidelines be published as soon as lockdowns are announced in the future.
The First Minister Mark Drakeford responded that the “question completely fails to understand the context in which such decisions are made”.
“They are not made at a leisurely pace,” he said. “They are not made with an opportunity to put every single dot and comma in its place before they are announced.
“You are dealing with a public health emergency. You are dealing with a situation where a day’s delay can put more people’s lives at risk.
“And I say to the member that her constituents and those who have contacted the member for Caerphilly Hefin David are a good deal more understanding than she appears to be, of the fact that the Welsh Government took action immediately when we were asked to do so by those public authorities.
“And within 24 hours every bit of guidance that was necessary to help people deal with the changed circumstances was available to them.”
Plaid Cymru, however, said that a Welsh Government report published on August 18th stated that the Welsh Government was planning on local lockdowns, which gave them four weeks to prepare.
Delyth Jewell MS said he had received hundreds of queries from concerned constituents who didn’t know what the rules were, including not knowing whether they could attend funerals or attend school.
Speaking following the First Minister’s defence of his actions in First Minister’s Questions, Plaid Cymru’s Delyth Jewell said that the First Minister “took his eye off the ball”.
“There simply was no excuse to announce a local lockdown with next no accompanying details when they knew at least four weeks in advance that local lockdowns would have to be implemented,” she said.
“The guidelines should have been ready to publish alongside the announcement of the local lockdown – the First Minister should apologise for his failure to do this and ensure future local lockdown are accompanied by detailed guidelines.
“Rather than admit his mistake and apologise to residents for causing them unnecessary distress, his response in the Senedd today was to criticise me personally simply for telling him what hundreds of concerned constituents had told me.
“What the First Minister doesn’t understand is that I will not be intimidated and will continue to represent the interests of residents in Caerphilly County Borough area and the whole of the south east by holding him to account for his government’s failures.”