Welsh Government ‘trying to force people to be sober’ with alcohol ban in pubs, peer says
A peer created by Boris Johnson has attacked the Welsh Government’s “punitive puritanism” and said that they are “forcing citizens to be sober”.
Claire Fox made the comments in reaction to the Welsh Government’s plan to ban alcohol in pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes across Wales from 6pm on Friday.
The former Brexit Party MEP, who was raised in Flintshire, was nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson in July.
“Welsh Assembly’s punitive puritanism strikes again,” she said. The institution is no longer known as an Assembly and the measures were brought in by the government, not the Welsh Parliament.
“This is Labour in power folks,” she continued. “I’m not so shocked when Tories are careless in destroying jobs & have prejudices about plebs having a pint. But Labour seems hell-bent on wiping out hospitality industry and forcing citizens to be sober.”
Mark Drakeford said earlier that the rule was brought in to discourage people from mixing.
“You’re sitting together with people for a significant period of time, and the evidence I’m afraid is just there,” he said.
The Welsh Government’s measures were also criticised by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Paul Davies.
“This blanket approach across all of Wales is disproportionate and will unfairly affect parts of the country where infection rates are significantly lower than others, and will harm the sector to such an extent that large parts of it may not recover,” he said.
“This is after they have invested hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of pounds on making their premises as safe as possible.
“With the best will in the world, and especially in the run-up to Christmas, if pubs and cafes cannot sell alcohol with meals, it could encourage people to drink at home and in groups. All the evidence so far has shown that these sorts of interactions are generally more likely to be a cause of transmission.”
Plaid Cymru said that the hospitality restrictions were “deeply regretful”.
“Plaid Cymru called for targeted payments to Welsh businesses worst affected by the crisis for many weeks now,” Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for the Economy Helen Mary Jones said.
“This package is welcome, as it targets support where it is most needed during the period of these restrictions.
“This money must be given to businesses as soon as possible – especially important for smaller businesses who will otherwise have problems with cash flow. Local authorities should also be given enough support to process and deliver payments quickly, and funded to take on more staff if they need to. A public information campaign is also crucial to ensure people are not drawn to socialising at home instead.
“This is going to be incredibly challenging for the hospitality sector and it is deeply regretful that we’ve found ourselves in this position. Plaid Cymru called for stricter measures as we came out of the Fire Break – including a more gradual easing of restrictions and optimising Wales’s own testing capacity to reach the 24-hour turnaround timescale target. The Labour Welsh Government failed to do that and now hospitality is paying the price.
“It’s now crucial they now roll-out mass testing in all parts of Wales, increase the financial support for those who have to self-isolate to £800 per person, and publish their vaccination plan for Wales. The crippling uncertainty that comes with locking and unlocking is doing untold damage to the economy – we all must redouble our efforts in working together to suppress the virus and avoid an endless cycle of lockdowns.
“And some businesses – particularly hospitality businesses that rely on tourism and large scale events – will not be able to operate profitably until vaccines are rolled out and the worst of the crisis is over. They will need longer term support to ‘hibernate’ into spring, and we will continue to press Welsh Government for targeted support for them.”