The Welsh Government’s announcement that Wales’ pubs and restaurants can open for outdoor trade this month has been criticised as “uneven” and “ad-hoc” by opposition parties.
The government said that the hospitality industry can begin to re-open outdoors from July 13, if cases of coronavirus continue to fall. That includes pubs, cafes and restaurants with existing outdoor seating areas.
The Welsh Conservatives however said that the government’s approach was uneven, and that allowing children to sit in classrooms but not adults to sit in socially distanced restaurants made no sense.
Plaid Cymru criticised the decision to announce the move less than two weeks in advance, meaning that pubs, cafes and restaurants would have little time to get ready.
“It is disappointing that I must keep pressing the Welsh Government to consider the impact of their restrictions on the hospitality sector,” Conservative MS Janet Finch-Saunders said.
“Whilst I welcome today’s announcement to allow outside trade, it is most questionable that the Welsh Government’s approach to reopening now allows our children to gather and eat in schools, but prevents adults from sitting in a restaurant where the correct safety precautions can be taken.
“The tourism offer throughout Aberconwy is marked by a raft of wonderful cafes and restaurants, using Welsh ingredients which greatly benefits local producers. These pillars of the North Wales economy are anxious to play their part in helping the nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mark Drakeford’s administration must urgently follow the UK Government’s lead and set out a timetable for enabling indoor trade. Their continued inaction on this issue is costing jobs and livelihoods.”
Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Economy, Helen Mary Jones MS, said that the Welsh Government had ignored calls for a timescale for reopening pubs and restaurants.
“While the news that we have a date now for outdoor opening is welcome, we still do not understand why a timetable couldn’t have been shared with the sector earlier,” she said.
“Giving the sector less than two weeks to prepare for re-opening shows how problematic the Welsh Government’s current ad-hoc approach is to easing restrictions.
“Now the Government needs to work with local authorities to urgently overcome the planning and licensing challenges that need to be addressed to enable spaces to be created in our towns and villages to increase the space available for outside opening, and work with the sector on a timetabled plan for indoor opening.
“The Welsh Government needs to be planning much further ahead and making clear which restrictions are expected to be lifted in the weeks and months ahead.
“And some businesses may not be able to open for some months to come. They will need longer term support, and they need to know from the Welsh and UK Governments now what that support will look like. We can’t afford to lose these vital businesses.”