Welsh Government criticised for not telling Senedd about two-week lockdown plans

Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales. Picture by the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has been criticised for telling organisations about its plans for a two-week lockdown in Wales before letting the Welsh Parliament know.

A leaked letter published yesterday showed that Wales could go into a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown between 6pm next Friday and midnight on Sunday 8 November.

The letter published by Bubble Wales from the Confederation of Passenger Transport Cymru says they have been briefed by ministers about the timing of the lockdown.

The Welsh Conservatives however said that the letter made it clear that the First Minister could have briefed the Senedd about his lockdown plans much earlier.

According to the leaked document, the announcement will be made this Monday, but the decision had already been made when the First Minister spoke at a press conference on Friday.

“The First Minister knew about this yesterday, and while we all suspected this was going to happen, there was no point in delaying it being announced,” Welsh Conservative Health Spokesman Andrew RT Davies said.

“Instead, he chose to bypass the Welsh Parliament and Members not of his party, and first brief outside organisations about it. It shows incredible disrespect to the institution of the Welsh Parliament, the voters, and it demonstrates the downright and breath-taking arrogance we have come to expect from the First Minister and the Labour Party.

“Worse, they have actually misled the public and Members of the Welsh Parliament by saying yesterday that ‘no decisions had yet been taken’, when clearly they had.

“Labour’s contempt for democracy and the Welsh electorate is staggering, and I have written to the Llywydd to express our grave concerns over the First Minister’s actions.”

 

‘Short and sharp’

The letter, however, notes that it is a “fast-moving situation” and most of the details are still to be made by government ministers.

It suggests that the lockdown will be of a similar nature to that in March with most non-essential shops to be closed, including pubs and restaurants.

Primary schools will remain open but ministers are yet to make a decision on secondary schools, according to the letter.

On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford did say a “short, sharp” circuit-breaker could slow down the virus.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continued with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said. “A ‘fire-break’ would also mean a short, sharp shock to all our lives.

“We would all have to stay at home to once again save lives. But this time it would be for weeks not months.”

He added that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he said.

“Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”

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