The Welsh Government’s daft 5-mile rule shows they don’t understand rural communities

Just out of reach – a sign showing the distance to Raglan and Monmouth.

Charlie Evans, Deputy Chairman of the Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire Conservative Association

In the latest round of easing the lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland has allowed groups of eight from multiple households to meet in outdoor spaces whether on private property or public spaces. Boris Johnson has done similar in England for groups up to six people.

But predictably, the Welsh Government is doing its own thing, allowing two households to meet with no group size limit (which seems sensible) – but imposing a bizarre 5-mile radius rule.

In practice, this means that under their guidelines you can go and buy a wheelbarrow from Charlie’s Stores 20 miles away but you cannot travel six miles to sit in your mum’s garden.

Welsh Conservative MS Andrew RT Davies was quick off the mark in pointing out how daft the rule was when ITV News caught a whiff of it last night. Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats also expressed concerns.

The orchestrator of it thinks that too but will still press on with it anyway, backpedalling slightly in the face of criticism to call it a “rule of thumb”. The First Minister himself, however, conceded that the rule was unfair.

This absurd rule shows us something we had long expected – that this Labour Welsh Government’s horizons don’t extend much further than built-up areas in the south-east of the country.

In rural communities, most people have to drive more than five miles to do their food shopping. If you live in Angle you are likely to shop in Pembroke or Pembroke Dock which is allowed under the guidelines, but you wouldn’t be allowed to stop off in Pembroke to have a cuppa with your mum in the garden while you are there.

If you live in Llandarog you could take a drive to Wyevale Garden Centre in Carmarthen, 6.7 miles away, to pick up some compost but you couldn’t see your grandparents in Tregynwr.

We are nearly three months into lockdown with families and partners separated. Babies are rolling around living rooms across the nation whose grandparents have never set eyes on.

The national mood is low. Yet with this policy, the Welsh Government has poured salt into that wound by favoured those families in cities and urban towns over the rest.

 

Managerialism

At the heart of this policy is this: the Welsh Government doesn’t trust us. They don’t trust us to apply some good old-fashioned common sense in this national effort to tackle Coronavirus.

They are forgetting that people understand perfectly well how the coronavirus spreads. That they can sit in someone’s garden safely at a 2m distance without going over to hug them. It is people who have made this lockdown work, not the government, and it is people who will continue to make it work as the government’s guidelines are eased.

After all, the rules have always been essentially unenforceable – beyond the police committing illegal foot patrols by intruding onto private land – so we’ve been depending on people’s common sense anyway.

The danger of the Welsh government’s managerialism is that people will stop taking the lockdown seriously. If some rules are obviously absurd people will start treating them all with contempt. Once you’ve broken one, because it’s daft, it’s easier to justify breaking others.

This policy is an insult to the millions of people living in rural areas and remote towns who have been patient and honoured the rules of lockdown in these last three months in our collective effort against coronavirus.

It appears most of the alfresco family reunions have unfortunately been put on ice in Wales due to the micro-managerialism of Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Government.

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Liam Dart
Guest
Liam Dart

I wish people would just read the actual regs and not the headlines. It’s a “rule of thumb”, a guideline to allow people to interact without traveling ridiculous distances. Please stop being dicks and stop trying to deliberately confuse people.

Lyn
Guest
Lyn

It would help if the WG hadn’t sent out a press notice saying you could only drive five miles full stop, end of story. Why don’t they know that the vast majority of most people, including journalists, don’t and won’t read the regulations, that “five miles” will definitely be the headline even if they qualify it and that it’s all that many people will ever hear.? Anyone ever involved in communication should know that as a gut reaction, and also that you don’t fully recover from the first reaction even with a lot of work. Where did you find the… Read more »

John Johnson
Guest
John Johnson

Liam Dart – Exactly.. You know when places do this that that their credibility goes down.. Bit like the Mirror and Mail..

DanP
Guest
DanP

Yeah I know the nation has been getting a wider range of voices from the political spectrum but allowing this kind of nonsense and to be Frank disinformation to spread isn’t what I come here for, I let the UK wide tabloids and telegraph handle that sh*t.

Susan Keel
Guest
Susan Keel

The Welsh government le by Mark Drake Ford has the most sensible approach to this crisis, as does the Scottish government. Thought and concern for its citizens. Unlike the English /UK government run by Johnson and his cronies More concerned with the economy than human well being. They are a shambles, uncaring about their citizens and downright nasty! Anyone supporting the Conservatives should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!! I am Welsh but sadly now live in England. How I wish I was still back home in Wales CYMRU AM BYTH.

John stevens
Guest
John stevens

I am English and live in South Wales the Welsh are no different to the English in braking lockdown rules so come back home and you will see

Catherine Bosley
Guest
Catherine Bosley

I voted Conservative and am proud to have done so.We have to get the Country back to work,the alternative is the worst recession since the 1920’s.Please do return to Wales at your earliest convenience,we have no wish to host people who dislike us.

Iago
Member

Nobody has got this right, but one thing for certain is that the current handling of the crisis by the UK goverment means that we have the highest death rate in Europe and that we will have a 2nd spike in deaths in a few short weeks because of the mismanagement of the crisis. In the past few days Spain has lost just 4 people. To Covid we have lost over 1000. The new face of Conservatism has guaranteed the UK will be the worst economically effected country in Europe. Millions think they have got away with it and they… Read more »

jack
Guest
jack

Another muppet comparing using absolute numbers’ yes UK 38000, Spain 27000 Deaths per million of pop UK 4136 Spain 5083 So higher chance of dying in socialist Spain In the UK per 100k INFECTION RATE Wales 390 England 235 DEATH RATE Wales 44.7 England 48.9 Higher chance of catching it in socialist Wales so does that mean our methods not working as well as England’s? Slightly higher chance of then dying in England possibly because their hospitals were more stressed than in Wales? Just remember all these stats are dependent on how each country records deaths ie UK counts deaths… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Facts are facts – truths are truths. The UK is one of the worst hit countries in the world – Fact. No massaging of the figures or use of percentages will change – the fact. Sometimes the truth is hard to take.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Guest
Gareth Wyn Jones

You voted for a party that dislikes us to say the least

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Covid-19 is going to give us the worst recession/depression for a hundred years whether we get back to work or not. The big problem is that if we end lockdown too quickly a second wave is far more likey. But that is of no concern to this Tory government. Johnson is ending lockdown too early and gambling with the lives of people in England. No one’s life is worth getting the economy back on track too early. He’ll do the same thing with a no deal Brexit in December – gamble with our economy this time. The man is reckless… Read more »

Philip Davies
Guest
Philip Davies

So the economy has nothing to do with ‘human well being’? What a daft lefty you are!

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Not if opening that economy too early means more lives lost……

max wallis
Guest
max wallis

FM Drakeford has after 5 weeks accepted science that finds the virus dies within 2 minutes outdoors in sunshine, so socialising outdoors is fine. In contrast the virus can live 10 hours indoors. Drakeford allows travel 20 miles or more to a garden centre (semi-indoors). He claimed to follow the science, so cannot argue that driving 20 miles to socialise outdoors would spread the virus to lesser infected areas. The WG won’t track the spread of infection, but it’s likely to arise more from goods/parcels distribution and/or health-care visits which go much further than 5 miles.

Gareth
Guest
Gareth

A small amount of confusion, overstated, about a ‘ rule of thumb’, not one set in stone.
Put that against the corruption of the public health strategy by UK gvt ( which still impacts us here) in order to save the job of their chief advisor and you wonder where the tories priorities are at.

Steve Thomas
Guest

There’s something ironic for tories to put posts on here when they have always been unsympathetic to an independent Welsh media!

Llewellyn
Guest
Llewellyn

You cant make an informed choice, if you dont know all sides of the argument. Ironic or Not. Unless of course one is the type of person who wants to only hear arguments that they they agree with. That of course makes a less rich debate. Diversity of opinion. What’s more worrying is the author of the article makes no attempt to even mention how the 5 miles affects us in North or mid wales. Even the people complaining over the Cardiff centric assembly forget theres other parts of wales away from them – the true irony.

Alan
Guest
Alan

This article will satisfy all those who just can’t wait to be offended. I’m no fan of Labour, but Mark Drakeford has done a fair job so far. The whole UK should know by now that Cymru has to be reckoned with, in the face of what critics still seem to forget is an existential threat. An appeal to use our judgement is entirely reasonable, but nothing seems to escape social media spite. Sadly, for those who appear to be intentionally misinterpreting appeals to common sense, it just goes to show that if sense were ‘common’ we would all have… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Guest
Steve Duggan

Yes, I have noticed rather more Tory posts on here of late. Are they secretly worried the independence movement is growing? Johnson wouldn’t want Wales to go independent on his watch, not that he cares about the Union, just that his huge ego will take a knock.

John Evans
Guest
John Evans

total rubbish – strawman again. Ooh city types don’t understand blah blah. Bored with this type of hair splitting. All it sounds like is a lack of mature adult ability to discern what is sensible . I’m not a labour supporter but Drakeford meant it as a rule of thumb where he trusts us mature adults to be able to apply common sense. By raising it as an issue it suggests you don’t have any.

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

Dead right. This man is a bit late with his article — the points he raises have already been commented on in previous posts on this site, and have been dealt with by pointing out (as Drakeford himself did yesterday) that the 5-mile regulation is a guideline. This is now the third article by a Welsh Conservative on this subject and it’s becoming a waste of ink. The Welsh people have, on the whole, co-operated with Welsh lockdown regulations, but they will use their discretion as regards the 5-mile limit, as will the Welsh police. In practice, there will be… Read more »

Philip Davies
Guest
Philip Davies

The point is, a guideline so wide of the more permissive mark now alleged to be aimed at is contradictory and confusing. Having one’s life micro-managed by officious bureaucrats during this lockdown is bad enough, without being expected to observe their more absurd directions with slavish, unquestioning obedience is too much. A nanny government behaving like ninnies is no better just for being different from the ninnies in Westminster. But Drakeford is considered beyond criticism by many here because of his perceived anti-Westminster agenda. This whole scenario just gets ever more ridiculous.

Philip Davies
Guest
Philip Davies

The extent of debate on the issue just speaks to the haphazard, ambiguous and confusing way government is directing the populace. I am sick of the ideology of political righteousness being developed, that moves ever further from any scientific basis, and expresses mainly face-saving bossiness by politicians who are even more in the dark than medical professionals. Until medical science has fully understood this exotic and probably man-made virus anything beyond observing ordinary hygiene is just pure panic. Face-saving for politicians and the non-medical bureaucrats who run the NHS should not be allowed to destroy the economy. (Now I’ll get… Read more »

Mair Martin
Guest
Mair Martin

Has been said by you all in criticism of the article, apply common sense and MD did say if you do live rurally then you can travel to see a relative(s) the same distance as would need to go shopping etc. Why show your ignorance and demonstrate that you didn’t listen to the whole broadcast author?
Also let’s stop scoring points, wrong time, even in my own party Plaid, plis peidiwch! It doesn’t gain points unless it’s a really stupid piece of advice like driving a long long way to a second home, now that is ignorant!

K. K
Guest
K. K

‘The Welsh Government doesn’t trust us’ I think you’ll find that they do and most people are happy with the way things have been managed. Why don’t you, as a servant, go back to your masters in London and ask them why scientists are fearing an explosion or second wave in London? And on the question of trust, why would anyone believe your glib excuse of a party when your own MP Simon Hart was rumoured to have defaced his own campaign material with Nazi symbols during the last election? No one cares mate not least of all for a… Read more »

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

Some people might be taking the lockdown less seriously because the UK government’s chief political adviser doesn’t think the rules apply to him. And his employer has agreed they don’t. The 5 mile limit is a guideline not an edict. Mr Drakeford was quite clear on that.

jenny jones
Guest
jenny jones

Mark Drakeford is doing the right thing, I am proud to live in Wales and glad we are being kept safe.
It is you that is publishing daft articles.

Jason Evans
Guest
Jason Evans

https://nation.cymru/opinion/lockdown-confusion-is-the-result-of-wriggle-room-in-the-welsh-governments-bad-law/
Here’s some comment from Evans’ fellow Tory
Suzy Davies, Welsh Conservative Senedd Member for South Wales West
I’m sure it’s not but if I were a mischievous commentator, I could suggest it
You know, the ones about libraries and garden centres. 
That’s one of those lawyers-rubbing-their-hands moments right there.
Isn’t Evans doing exactly what Davies advocates against, being a “mischievous commentator”, pulling a “political stunt” and “rubbing-their-hands moments” right here

Wrexhamian
Guest
Wrexhamian

They’re trying to score points where there’s none to be had. Nothing to see here.

DanP
Guest
DanP

You’ve nailed it there tbh Jason.

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy

It’s not daft, you use your judgement and make it a sensible one, as most people have done throughout the crisis. Except of course in England by The Tory mass manslaughterers

Vaughan Philipps
Guest
Vaughan Philipps

I’m seeing a slew of Tories trying to make mountains out of molehills, here on Nation. I’m afraid that any points they try to make, valid or otherwise, are rendered moot by the actions of their masters in Westminster. For shame, the lot of you!

John Ellis
Guest
John Ellis

I don’t think this objection holds water – which hardly surprises me, given that it’s raised by a Cummings-era Tory. The five miles has been very specifically defined as a ‘rule of thumb’ guideline. Where I live now, in the very rural Vale of Clwyd, five miles is nonetheless probably about right, given that both our local towns are within five miles of the hamlet in which we live and most of the people we know live within that perameter. Whereas when I lived in sparsely populated north Radnorshire back in the 1970s, five miles would have been entirely unrealistic,… Read more »

Casper Gutman
Guest

The guidance published on and not changed since Friday says very clearly that what “local” means has to be interpreted differently depending on the area where you live.

I agree the press release could have been clearer, but there is literally an entire section right near the start of the guidance entitled “What does ‘local’ mean?” You’d have to try quite hard to write an article about this without spotting it had been addressed….

https://gov.wales/guidance-changes-coronavirus-regulations-1-june#section-43067

John Hones
Guest
John Hones

Did the author of this article, or various commenters actually listen to what the FM said. Or are they just blind faithful BoBots, who will bleat whatever rubbish the Tory machine tells them?
FM was very clear, he said 5 miles as a rule of thumb, because people had asked for a guide to what “local” means, but was equally clear that people should use their judgement and common sense rather than apply this as a strict restriction and that this would be particularly the case in rural communities.

Val Elvis
Guest
Val Elvis

If you read the guidelines, the 5 mile rule isn’t mandatory. If you travel 20 miles to buy a wheelbarrow…. (why?), or go to the supermarket, then you can travel to see family. I don’t know why you can’t understand that, it seems pretty uncomplicated to me! It seems you’re trying to score points here by making straight forward advice difficult. We have a sensible approach to the easing of lockdown which helps safeguard our communities and I, for one, am very happy with it.

Lisa Clift
Guest
Lisa Clift

I totally agree , the Welsh minister is absolutely bizarre I reLky dont know what’s going through his head, please give us all a break, if your going to ease the lock down ease the lock down dont treat us like children

John
Guest
John

The usual tired drivel from out-of-touch Cons trying to deflect attention away from the appalling record of their PM and the sense of national outrage at the behaviour of Dominic Cummings. Appealing to good old-fashioned common sense is the cheapest of cheap points. Would this be the same common sense that has produced the highest death rate in Europe? There is good leadership, and there is the abdication of leadership. And although you won’t have noticed it in Cardiff, right now the infection rate in N Wales is sky-high. But hey, don’t let that prevent you from rubbishing ongoing measures… Read more »

Chris Davies
Guest
Chris Davies

This article is the worst drivel I’ve seen in a while. The virus doesn’t care whether you live in a rural or urban environment. When we ease restrictions and one-to-one contacts increase, there will be more infections (compared with staying in lockdown)…… simple. And the further you travel to make those contacts, the further the virus will spread. Personally I’m completely happy with the Welsh govt’s honest, staightforward and cautious approach compared with the reckless gambling coming out of No10.

Abi Thomas
Guest
Abi Thomas

At least most of the people Wales are abiding by the lockdown rules unlike elite Tories like Cummings.

Gareth Wyn Jones
Guest
Gareth Wyn Jones

Really after what your appalling bosses in Westminster have been up to since February you have a brass neck trying to make political capital out of this (no Labour lover myself) – read the regs first. Your bosses in Westminster who pull your strings have made diabolically bad decisions that have let to thousands of of excess deaths so excuse me if I throw a heap of contempt on this article, we are not even getting on to the behaviour of Cummings in all this.

Rona Campbell
Guest

Charlie Evans, 5 mile distance. Not only is this obligatory, but the lack of trust is insulting. 20% of Wales population live in rural Wales, not great but a lot are farmers , food providers. What I want to hear are statistics from the Minister. For example ?% currently have the virus, but when it drops below ?% or matches England and Scotland’s drop in virus we will allow the two weeks to be reduced. Testing in any one area should be intensive, where there are over ? Numbers of infected people and restriction put in place there until the… Read more »