We couldn’t move to level 4 without Treasury support, says Drakeford after scientific advice for lockdown published
Mark Drakeford has said that the Welsh Government could not have implemented a lockdown as advised by scientists before Christmas even if they wanted to, because they did not have the support for the Treasury to do so.
Scientific advice the Welsh Government received on 17 December said that only a four-week lockdown would make have a “significant impact” to Omicron cases.
It advised moving to Alert level 4 which includes a stay local rule and no extended households of the kind last seen during early 2021.
Mark Drakeford said that he felt that the restrictions they did impose – including closing nightclubs, a rule of six and table service at hospitality venues – were the correct ones but that they couldn’t have moved to Level 4 with the funding they had.
“The advice that we have seen, as I say, it changes day by day as more information is fed into the model,” he told Sunday Supplement. “We believe that the measures we have taken, the level two measures we have taken, were the proportionate measures to take at the time that we took them.
“But we have had this long-standing argument with the Treasury in London. That when English ministers know that they need to move up the levels they know that they can draw on Treasury money to do so.
“And we, as are Scotland and Northern Ireland, are not in that same position. So we would not be able to move to level four on our own because the level of support you need to offer to the Welsh economy in those circumstances is simply beyond what the Welsh Government ourselves are able to mobilise.
“So that point about Treasury support is really critical.”
Mark Drakeford added that they now expected to see a rapid rise in cases through the beginning of January, culminating with a peak in the second half of the month.
however, he warned against comparing Wales too closely with South Africa, where the Omicron wave has dissipated rapidly, as our population is significantly older.
“The data shows us that Omicron is now apparent in all parts of Wales, and has now become the dominant form of coronavirus,” he said. “On December 30, 10,400 new people fell ill with coronavirus in Wales on a single day and the positivity rate is now 37%. That’s a really, really high figure.
“The difficult January that we could see coming, I’m afraid is with us. And the protections in place are really necessary to help us all to get through the challenging weeks ahead.
“The modelling shows that we will see the peak towards the end of the month, that we will see a rapid rise to the peak, and then, compared to earlier waves, relatively rapid decline as it goes through Wales and out the other side.”