A Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd has criticised the expected announcement that people in Wales will only be allowed to travel five miles to see family and friends.
Coronavirus restrictions are likely to be relaxed next week in Wales so people from two different households can meet each other outdoors.
However they will need to stay in their local area – a distance expected to be set at five miles – and remain two metres apart.
South Wales Central MS, Andrew RT Davies, has tonight written to the First Minister asking him to amend the “arbitrary” regulation before tomorrow’s official announcement.
If not, Davies has asked the Welsh Government to publish the scientific evidence on which this regulation has been based.
“First and foremost, I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to allow people from different households to meet, which is great news to many people and families in Wales,” Andrew RT Davies said.
“However, whilst this is the right course of action, the First Minister is in danger of giving with one hand and taking away with another by imposing this arbitrary five-mile travel rule. It must go.
“Not everyone in Wales lives in a town or city close to family and friends and this will unfairly impact on those in our rural communities.
“I therefore politely ask the First Minister to change this regulation prior to tomorrow’s announcement and ensure everyone in Wales can have the pleasure of seeing their family and friends next week.
“If he chooses not to, then the Welsh Labour Government should share the scientific evidence on which this decision has been made with the public.”
Plaid Cymru said the Welsh Government’s cautious approach on lifting restrictions was right, but called for a clearer strategy so that the public know what lies ahead in coming weeks and months.
Shadow Health Minister, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, pointed to the Republic of Ireland’s multi-phase plan as “clear approach to lifting restrictions”, although he warned that dates for relaxing various restrictions must be changeable, depending on patterns of the pandemic over time.
“The people of Wales have generally adhered well to lockdown restrictions, and understand the need to take a cautious approach,” he said.
“Plaid Cymru advocates such a cautious approach, but given how isolated many people are feeling, I had urged Government to look at steps such as allowing families to meet in the open air, on the grounds of welfare, as long as it was based on science and risk management.
“But the public would also benefit from having a clearer plan of how restrictions will be managed. I don’t think the current ‘traffic light’ system offers that. I hope Welsh Ministers will look at the model they have in Ireland, where there’s a phased approach for all to see.
“Key to lifting of restrictions, of course, will be the robustness of the Welsh test and trace scheme, due to start next week. We’ll be watching closely to gauge its effectiveness. Welsh Government must get that right, or the relaxing of restrictions puts people at renewed risk, and they need to be ready to backtrack if there are negative consequences.”