Tories criticise Drakeford for saying he’s not an ‘agony aunt’ for hospitality industry
The Tories have criticised Mark Drakeford for saying that he’s not an “agony aunt” for the hospitality industry.
Conservative Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies called the First Minister’s response “dire” after he was asked about reviewing the 2 meter social distancing rule for indoor hospitality.
During a debate on the relaxation of Covid-19 rules in the Senedd, James Evans, who represents Brecon and Radnorshire for the Conservatives, asked a question on the matter on behalf of one of his constituents who is a landlord.
Drakeford replied that he wasn’t “an agony aunt for hospitality venues across Wales.”
He went on to a say “we haven’t had a 2m rule in hospitality for a very long time”, adding “where hospitality venues are not able to sustain a 2m rule” they should put “other mitigating measures” in place.
The Welsh Government announced yesterday that most Covid-19 rules in Wales are set to be scrapped from 7 August, as the nation moves into alert level zero.
However, face masks will still be legally required in shops and most indoor public places.
Andrew RT Davies said: “The hospitality industry in Wales isn’t looking for an agony aunt, just some support from its government.
“A pretty dire response from the First Minister, which sadly sums up the Welsh Government’s attitude to business and the economy in Wales.”
James Evans said: First Minister, I welcome your announcement today, and I particularly welcome the move into alert level 1, moving to alert level 0 for outdoors.
“So, it gives things like the Green Man Festival in my constituency the confidence now to go ahead and that gives people a real boost in their mental health as well – they can actually physically go somewhere and have a good time.
“And I also welcome your announcements around self-isolation, and it just proves what amazing work the vaccination programme has done to keep people safe right across Wales.
“But, as you were talking, First Minister, one of your staunch critics in my constituency texted me – he is a landlord – and he wanted me to ask you a couple of questions.
“He did say that you’re finally on the right track, but he wanted me to ask you these couple of questions: ‘when will you look to review the 2m social-distancing rule for indoor hospitality so that our pubs and restaurants can get back to normal?’
“And his final question was: ‘do your announcements mean that the rule of six will be removed for those premises with a beer garden?’”
Mark Drakeford replied: “Llywydd, I’ll do my best; I’m not an agony aunt for hospitality venues across Wales.
“But the 2m rule in hospitality – I can at least help your constituent there, because we haven’t had a 2m rule in hospitality for a very long time.
“What we have had is a rule that says that, where hospitality venues are not able to sustain a 2m rule – and therefore the regulations recognise that that isn’t always possible – other mitigating measures must be put in place.
“So, there is no absolute rule of 2m in hospitality, and many, many venues have worked incredibly hard, Llywydd, to make sure that, when that isn’t possible, there are those other mitigating measures: screens in some places, regular cleaning regimes, limited times that people can remain and so on.
“An imaginative and creative repertoire has been developed in the hospitality industry, and I commend them for it and I hope that the Member’s constituent will be able to catch up with that.”