As UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to lay out his plan for the next phase of the lockdown tonight, Plaid Cymru has called on the Welsh and UK Governments to agree on a different approach for Wales.
Leader Adam Price said that the Welsh Labour Government should adopt a plan similar to New Zealand to suppress cases and to reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero.
He also said that there may need to be travel restrictions between Wales and other parts of the UK to avoid a “potentially disastrous impact” on Welsh communities.
The Plaid Cymru plan is as follows:
1. Staying in Lockdown
Wales was too slow into lockdown and needs to avoid being too fast out. Leaving the lockdown too early would be bad for Wales, and an easing of restrictions in England would also be bad for Wales.
2. Travel and Residency Restrictions
The UK Government needs to empower Wales in legislation and in messaging to enable restrictions on travel and residency so that the policy in Wales is not undermined.
If necessary, travel restrictions within Wales, and between Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom should be introduced.
Similarly, international travel should be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
3. The New Zealand Model
Driving down ‘R’ must be the priority rather than managing the number of cases based on what the Health Service can handle. This means driving the R number below 0.5 and reducing the number of cases in order to decrease the number of avoidable deaths to zero.
4. Test & Trace
Full test, trace and isolate capacity needs to be ready by end of this three-week period.
5. Care Homes
A specific strategy to drive down clusters of cases in care homes based on transparency on R number in care homes and a policy of testing should become universally available in care homes.
6. Adjustment Phase
As we enter the adjustment phase, when appropriate, local flexibility should form part of the strategy. When the number of new cases has been successfully supressed nationally, a more local approach can be adopted with the ability to re-impose lockdown measures quickly in response to the emergence of new clusters.
Such a locally targeted approach is advocated by the World Health Organization.
7. Economic Support
The economic life-support machine should not be switched off. Nations that remain in lockdown longer for public health reasons, should not be disadvantaged by any changes to economic support. Current levels of financial support should be maintained in nations that need it.
Mr Price added that if the Prime Minister were to “insist” on relaxing the lockdown in England, then travel restrictions imposed within Wales and between Wales and other parts of the UK “may be necessary” to avoid a “potentially disastrous impact” on Welsh communities.
“With the rate of Coronavirus transmission startlingly high, the stay at home message should be sent loudly and clearly,” Adam Price said. “This is the only way to save lives. By respecting the lockdown, we will recover faster.
“If the Prime Minister insists on relaxing the lockdown in England, travel restrictions imposed within Wales and between Wales and other parts of the UK may be necessary in order to avoid a potentially disastrous impact on our communities.
“Plaid Cymru’s seven-point plan is centred on continuing the lockdown.
“When the number of new cases has been successfully suppressed nationally, then a more local approach can be adopted, with the ability to re-impose lockdown measures quickly in response to the emergence of new clusters.
“All efforts must now focus on driving down the R number – the rate at which the virus reproduces – to reduce the number of avoidable deaths to zero. This is the model adopted so successfully by New Zealand.
“Moving safely to the next phase on the path to recovery requires the Welsh Government to change gear, abandon the excuses and honour the promises to ramp up testing and tracing.”