Welsh Tory MPs write to First Minister to question need for all-Wales blanket restrictions
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
A number of Welsh Tory MPs have called on the First Minister to justify a decision to implement “indiscriminate” restrictions across Wales.
They called on Mark Drakeford to use a tiered approach based on local infection numbers.
The new ‘Tier 4 Lockdown’, will apply to the whole of Wales and include the closure of all non-essential shops from the end of trading on Christmas Eve, before the “alert level four” lockdown starts on December 28.
While schools, colleges and places of worship will be among the venues permitted to stay open, visitor attractions, leisure and fitness facilities, hospitality and holiday accommodation will shut their doors.
This has led to Tory MP’s writing publicly to the First Minister seeking justification over such blanket and “disproportionate” restrictions, which they claim will cause “needless societal and economic harm.”
Signed by 11 Conservative members, it points to figures showing that while the average positive test rate across Wales was 20.2% for the week ending December 13, across the Betsi Cadwaladr health board area it was only 10% and as low as 3.1% on the Isle of Anglesey.
“Conversely there are rates in excess of 25% and even 30% in parts of south Wales,” the letter says.
“We agree that all parts are seeing an increase in numbers – it is the proportionality of the measures in treating all areas in the same way we have questioned and continue to question and we would therefore like to see the evidence to justify.
“Please therefore can you outline the scientific advice and rationale given for treating all areas of Wales in the same manner.”
Ynys Môn MP, Virginia Crosbie, added that she had received a large number of emails from constituents “dismayed at the severity of the restrictions,” feeling that the steps taken “are not proportionate to the cases being reported in north Wales.”
“This is particularly true on Anglesey where our rate per 100,000 population is just 27,” she said.
“Over the border to England, where there is a more localised approach, Herefordshire – which has around 50 cases per 100,000 – will move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 this weekend.
“If this approach were applied to Anglesey, hospitality and leisure businesses would be permitted to open, places of worship could hold services, indoor and outdoor performances could take place, sports could be played and travel would not be restricted.
“Anglesey is so reliant on its hospitality and leisure sector that this move by the Welsh Government could sound the death knell for hundreds of businesses which have worked so hard to comply with regulations, retain staff and keep their customers safe this year.
“This is completely unnecessary and a disservice to the people of Anglesey.”
But during Friday’s daily briefing Mental Health and Wellbeing Minister Eluned Morgan said: “We have to recognise that the virus is prevalent on all our communities, even in those communities where the levels are much lower than elsewhere.
“We also have to recognise that we are all inter-dependent as a nation.”