Welsh Conservatives call for evidence as Drakeford says restrictions will stay in place
The Welsh Conservatives have called for evidence to back up the Welsh Government’s Covid restrictions after the First Minister said they would stay in place for another week.
Mark Drakeford said today that his Cabinet had carried out a review of the new restrictions introduced on Boxing Day and decided to keep them in place for at least another week. The move comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided not to introduce any new restrictions in England amid a surge in the Omicron variant.
“Wales moved to alert level two on Boxing Day,” Mark Drakeford said. “The public health situation remains very volatile and the Christmas period is always one when collecting and analysing data is challenging.
“Against this background, the outcome of the review is that we will continue with the current arrangements for alert level two protections in Wales, while continuing to closely monitor the situation.”
Stricter rules were introduced in Wales from Sunday meaning groups of no more than six people could meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
Meanwhile, outdoor events are limited to 50, while 30 people allowed indoors, leading to many sporting events being cancelled or played behind closed doors.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS, said that the Welsh Government needed to “lead by example and publish the evidence they are receiving before making decisions, so that we can thoroughly scrutinise their actions”.
“It is not good enough that they want to impose restrictions, which do not make sense, without showing us this crucial evidence to justify them,” he said.
He however welcomed the decision to cut the self-isolation period in Wales from 10 to seven days.
From tomorrow, people who have tested positive for Covid-19 must self-isolate for seven days. On days six and seven of their self-isolation period they should take lateral flow tests and if these tests – taken 24 hours apart – are positive, they should continue to self-isolate.
“We welcome the changes announced today that sees the self-isolation reduced by three days to enable those critical workers, to keep the economy turning and to maintain staff levels in the NHS,” Russell George said.
“It is a shame that the Labour Government rejected this change last week but at least they have seen the evidence and changed their minds.”
It was announced earlier that Covid infection rates in Wales had reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic in March last year.
According to the latest figures released by Public Health Wales, 21,051 people tested positive for the virus in the 48 hours up to 9am yesterday, raising the weekly rate across the country to 1,092.5 cases per 100,000 population.
Mark Drakeford said that the situation in Wales had “deteriorated in the last week as the omicron wave has arrived”.
“We have seen a marked rise in cases of coronavirus – the majority are likely to be caused by the omicron variant,” he said.
“This is similar to the position in the rest of the UK.”