Wales will be more cautious in its approach to lifting restrictions on hospitality than the UK Government in England, the First Minister has suggested.
Leaked details in today’s London newspapers suggest that Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to allow the hospitality industry to reopen on Tuesday, March 30.
The 10pm curfew and the requirement to have a substantial meal with alcohol will also be abandoned.
However, Mark Drakeford suggested that due to the more transmissible Kent strain of the virus a slower and steadier approach should be adopted.
He told Vaughan Roderick on Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement that he was “absolutely right” than Wales’ timetable will be different.
“We will continue to use the same approach as last year. Careful, cautious, one step at a time,” he said.
“And the advice I’m getting is that it’s even more important to do it that way this time because Wales is in the grip of the Kent variant which is so much more infections than the original form of coronavirus.
“We simply don’t know what the impact of unlocking our economy, our society, our public services will be. And therefore it’s even more important to do it one step at a time, review the evidence after you’ve done that, and then as we hope the combination of vaccination, different treatments, people sticking to the basic rules, if all of that shows us that it’s safe to open up more parts of our society then, of course, we want to do that.
“But we’ve got to do that in a way that puts public safety at the forefront of things. Otherwise, we’ll just be back in the same difficulties that were so vivid here in Wales before Christmas.”
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show earlier the UK Government’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also suggested a more cautious approach than that leaked to the press.
“I think we are also cautious and careful because you can’t get ahead of the evidence of the impact of the vaccine on the transmission,” he said.
“You’ve got to be able to monitor it in real-time, which is why I think saying what we’re going to do with precision and as a guarantee by the end of April, beginning of May, I think is difficult to do at this stage.”
He later told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “The numbers look good, but I want to wait until we’ve got the formally published figures so that we’re doing it accurately and in the right way.
“On 8 March we are aiming, we are hoping, to get schools back. The precise details we need to set out once we have evaluated all of that evidence. The prime minister will give more of a steer on the 22nd. But the aim is to get schools reopening in a responsible way on the 8th.”
His comments came after a group of 60 Tory backbenchers calling themselves the Covid Recovery Group, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that by the end of April there would be “no justification” for restrictions to remain.