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Plaid pile pressure on Drakeford for re-think of Christmas Covid rules relaxation

15 Dec 2020 4 minutes Read
Adam Price speaking at a party conference. Picture by Plaid Cymru

The Welsh Government should review the Christmas guidance to bring the level of cases back under control, the Leader of Plaid Cymru has said.

The calls comes after Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he will “not lightly put aside” the “hard-won” four nations agreement over household mixing at Christmas.

Plaid leader Adam Price however said that Wales was facing a “worsening situation” and that Government Ministers were “losing control”. He urged the Welsh Government to “act to protect the NHS” to prevent it from being overwhelmed as the number of Covid-19 cases reach record levels.

His calls come as Michael Gove prepares to meet with the First Minister of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to discuss a potential change of Christmas plans.

The leaders will discuss a range of alternatives, including

  • Keeping the rules as they are but toughening up the messaging
  • Reducing the number of days the rules are relaxed for
  • Reducing the number of households that are allowed to mix
  • Still allowing travel but restricting it to the same region
  • Moving the window to another time.

Earlier, Nicola Sturgeon said they were “considering whether any additional precautions are necessary in light of what we know so far”.

Adam Price added there was a “strong case” to review the Christmas guidance to bring the level of cases back under control.

He said consideration should be given to setting clear guidance that only two households should be mixing over the Christmas period with “compassionate exceptions” for those who would otherwise be alone and in introducing Tier 4 restrictions in areas of high Covid – such as the south of Wales “without delay” and before December 28th if that is what the situation requires based on “the best available evidence and scientific advice.”

Mr Price added that restrictions alone were “not the answer” and said test, trace, support and isolate must all “work together” – including increased financial support and isolation accommodation, support to allow businesses forced to close to be able to hibernate fully and the test and trace system to increase the amount of close contacts it reaches “with 24 hours”.

The Plaid Leader confirmed he had written to First Minister Mark Drakeford asking him to convene “urgent talks” between himself and the leaders of the main opposition parties in Wales to discuss alternative proposals.

 

‘Evidence’

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price MS said: “We’ve had disagreements with the Welsh Government about how restrictions have been implemented. But we are facing a worsening situation and Ministers are losing control. They must act to protect the NHS which is in danger of being overwhelmed as the number of Covid-19 cases reach record levels.

“We believe there is a strong case to review the Christmas guidance to bring the level of cases back under control. At present, the Chief Medical Officer’s words are not reflected in the Welsh Government’s actions.

“If supported by the scientific evidence, consideration must be given to setting clear guidance that only two households should be mixing over the Christmas period with compassionate exceptions, for example for those who would otherwise be alone. Secondly, urgent consideration must be given to introducing Tier 4 restrictions in areas of high Covid, in particular in the south of Wales without delay and before December 28th if that is what the situation requires based on the best available evidence and scientific advice.

“Restrictions alone though are not the answer. Test, trace, support and isolate must all work together. People need to be encouraged to self-isolate where necessary with increased financial support and isolation accommodation, businesses forced to close need to be able to hibernate fully and the test and trace system needs to significantly increase the amount of close contacts it reaches with 24 hours.

“Today, I have written to the First Minister to ask him to convene urgent talks between himself and the leaders of the main opposition parties to discuss these and alternative proposals. Wales needs to come together now and the best way of doing that is to reach an all-Wales agreement to keep our population safe.”

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