Welsh Conservatives call for scrapping of crowd ban so Wales can play Six Nations at home
The Welsh Conservatives have called for an end to the ban on crowds at games so that Wales can play their Six Nations matches at home.
Wales play against Scotland, France and Italy on the 12th of February and the 11th and 19th of March.
An update to Covid restrictions are likely to be announced today or tomorrow by the Welsh Government, with no major changes to the restrictions that came into force on Boxing Day expected at this time.
Fans are banned from all sporting events in Wales, including events held indoors and outdoors, and community level sports. Large sporting activities, such as running groups, can take place outdoors but will be limited to a maximum of 50 from 26 December.
This has led to criticism for effectively banning events such as Parkrun as well as ensuring that no crowds were present at rugby and football matches over the weekend.
Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said that it would be “disappointing” if the WRU decided to play matches in England as a result of the restrictions.
But Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said that it would be better if the Welsh Government scrapped the rules on outdoor sporting events now.
“We need the Labour Government to seriously examine the logic behind its decisions to limit participation in and attending sports events like Parkrun, not only for the sake of mental health but, so that Wales can play its Six Nations games here and fans can spend their money here,” he said.
“It is increasingly clear that the Omicron variant is a milder form of coronavirus and the main issue we have is not mass hospitalisations and deaths – which have not emerged – but the need to isolate, which is affecting services across the board.
“As we come through this difficult period, we will have to, sooner or later, stop talking about moving on from the pandemic, and actually do so with political consensus.”
Speaking to the BBC, Health Minister Eluned Morgan had said that financial support may not be available to the WRU should they move matches to England.
“We’d be disappointed if the WRU made that decision [to move games to be played in England],” she said.
“There would obviously be financial consequences for them and there is an understanding from the Welsh Government that we would have to step in to support them financially if they did have to postpone those matches or cancel them.
“If they decided to go to England then it would be more difficult for us to come up with that financial support.”
However, Eluned Morgan said it was “early days” for the restrictions.
“Omicron is moving very quickly,” she said. “We’re hoping that we reach the peak and come down very quickly. Two of the matches are due to be played in March, so who knows?”
Andrew RT Davies added that he would like to see more support for the business affected by the Omicron restrictions.
He added: ““The First Minister himself said these rules should not be in place any longer than necessary, so any limits on our society and economy must constantly be proven to be necessary and evidence should be produced as a matter of course, rather than dragged out of ministers as we had to do last time.
“Two things that should be urgently announced tomorrow is the release of the financial support for all those businesses, especially in hospitality, that suffered because of the rules and clarity over work from home guidance.
“Business must not wait until the 17th January to apply for support – that funding needs to be released now. The Labour Government must also scrap the ridiculous fines for those who go into the office to work, keeping our economy going.”