Six Nations crowd ban will stay in place unless Covid cases fall, Health Minister suggests
The Welsh Government’s Health Minister has suggested that a ban on crowds at Wales’ home Six Nations matches will stay in place unless Covid cases begin to fall.
Eluned Morgan was responding to reports that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce that rules on the sizes of crowds at sporting events will be relaxed in Scotland.
Morgan said the Welsh Government is “keen to dismantle any restrictions as soon as we possibly can” but added that “we are in a situation where the pandemic is very much still with us”.
The minister said it would be “difficult” ease restrictions “if the numbers are continuing to rise”.
On the Six Nations she said that “we’ve still got some time before those decisions need to be made” and suggested it would be in early February.
In Wales, fans are banned from all sporting events and activities, such as running groups, can take place outdoors but are limited to a maximum of 50.
England has no restrictions and Northern Ireland caps crowds at 50% capacity and 5,000 people.
The Welsh Government have faced criticism of their crowd ban, with the WRU saying that they were looking at taking Wales’ home Six Nations matches to England, and conflict with Chester FC whose stadium lies mostly on Wales’ side of the border.
‘Can assure you’
Eluned Morgan told reporters: “I can assure you that we are keen to dismantle any restrictions as soon as we possibly can. We think it’s our legal obligation to do that. But we are in a situation where the pandemic is very much still with us.
“We are keeping a very close eye on the statistics that are coming in at the moment. We’re hoping that we’re seeing a stabilisation in those numbers.
“Clearly I think it would be difficult to dismantle things if the numbers are continuing to rise. But certainly when it comes to the Six Nations we think we’ve still got some time before those decisions need to be made. That is early February. There’s still a bit of time for us to make those decisions.
“We are already discussing this in cabinet but as I say it’s unlikely that we’ll see an easing of those restrictions until we see at least a levelling off and are coming down from the peak from these extremely high levels that we’re seeing at the moment.
“Let’s be clear about where we’re at in this process. We are seeing the highest levels of cases that we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, still in our communities today and now would not be a sensible time for us to ease those restrictions.”
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The question should be, why does she think Sturgeon was wrong to allow 500 people (rather than 50) to gather outdoors? That figure would allow community events to proceed, whilst still prohibiting the larger events that WG seem more concerned about.
it’s easy to characterise Johnson as being a callous libertine, but Sturgeon is less easy to write-off as someone who is reflexively against government action.
With Scotland apparently lifting restrictions soon and indications that rates on Wales are falling, the longer outdoor restrictions continue the more damage this will do to covid compliance and support for this WG. Regulations must be understandable and proportionate. Fans can’t continue to be banned from outdoor sporting events because of covid traces in waste water!
While I applaud our government trying to keep us safe and I understand that they have the information and expertise we don’t have, I really want to go and watch a match and would be willing to take the risk (while wearing a mask of course).
Where is Plaid in all this? Are they not going to take the side of their friends the SNP & call on the restrictions to be lifted, or just blindly follow Labour’s policies. If so I hope the Labour/Plaid deal is worth it.
…but cases aren’t continuing to rise? They’ve fallen 4 days in a row now. Very sharply in fact!
So what would jumping the gun achieve? Just wait a few more days until we know it is going down properly.
But in a few days time people will still be asking for a few more days.
Wales has the best vaccine rollout in Europe but still one of the strictest rules for outdoor gatherings in Europe.
Scotland has made the right judgement. Let people have events outside. Its safe!
Hopefully on Friday, after Scotland have now announced an end to similar restrictions and 4 further days of evidence of a fall in rates, the end of these outdoor estrictions will be announced. As well as making little public health sense it would be political insanity to keep on this road for much longer.
There’s a difference between allowing fans to attend Six Nations matches while following Covid restrictions and appeasing calls to relax restrictions due to political ideology & financial pressures. Ideology and money should never come above the health & wellbeing of the public for short-term gain. This evident with Boris Johnson’s relaxation, or should I say, laxation of rules due to right-wing ERG pressure resulting in the spread of Omicron on an industrial scale over the New Year period adding further pressure not only to the English NHS but throughout the nations & regions of Britain. Anyone with an ounce of… Read more »