The “Prime Minister for England” eases more lockdown measures over the border but Wales wont take a “Cavalier” approach
Boris Johnson has set out further changes to lockdown measures in England, as has been widely trailed in the press over the past few days.
From Saturday July 4 pubs, restaurants and hairdressers in England will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
On the same date, two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, people will also be able to take “staycations” in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.
Some leisure facilities and tourist attractions in England will be able to reopen, including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Boris Johnson also said people should remain 2m apart where possible but a “one metre plus” rule will be introduced.
Mr Johnson said: “The administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions
and they will respond to the united view of the Chief Medical Officers at their own pace, based on their own judgment,
but all parts of the UK are now travelling in the same direction and we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone in our country gets the support they need.
Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England.”
Welsh Conservatives have called on first minister Mark Drakeford to review lockdown rules in Wales following todays move by the UK Government.
Darren Millar MS – the Shadow Minister for Covid Recovery – said: “These are safe and sensible measures which will come as a huge relief to those parts of society and the economy which would otherwise be unable to function and it is great to see them attracting cross-party support.
We encourage the Welsh Government to urgently review the restrictions here as soon as possible in order that a similar lifeline can be thrown to people and businesses across Wales.”
The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has called on the Welsh Government to publish a timeline of when hospitality businesses in Wales can reopen.
Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “Whilst the Prime Minister’s announcement relates singularly to England, it does raise questions about how we ease out of lockdown around the UK, including here in Wales.
This news will be welcomed by many businesses across the border and there will be inevitable pressure on Welsh Government to review how we can reopen more of Wales in a way that keeps Welsh businesses competitive with their English counterparts as well as ensures the safety of employees, customers and business owners themselves.
We understand that these are difficult decisions for Welsh Government, but these are pressing times for Welsh businesses.
Hospitality and some tourism firms may now be wondering why businesses in England have a firm and immediate plan for when and how they are able to reopen, whilst Welsh businesses are still waiting on a similar intervention from Welsh Government.
We reiterate the call we made last week for the First Minister to introduce a timeline for reopening hospitality firms, as well as those tourism businesses that were not covered by the recent Welsh Government announcement.”
At today’s Welsh government briefing – which took place at the same time as Boris Johnson was making the England only announcement – Health Minister Vaughan Gething responded to a question about changes over the border.
Referring to Mr Johnson as the “Prime Minister for England”, the minister said:
“I do understand that there are businesses who are anxious and want to restart economic activity.
This government wants to see more economic activity restart as well. We’re genuinely and desperately concerned about the future plight of the economy and know that health and the economy are linked undeniably.
We know that if we have good economic conditions where people have good jobs are relatively well paid that actually there are fewer public health challenges.
We know that poor health leads to poor economic outcomes too.
We also know that for economic losses people are suffering actually, if we take a Cavalier approach which we have not done in Wales, then we could see more economic activity starting over that wasn’t safe.
And that wouldn’t just lead to a public health problem, not just a loss of life, but it also leads to sort of economic scarring that many economists are rightly concerned about if we had to go into an earlier and harder lockdown.
Now, I haven’t seen any of the evidence from the announcement… by the Prime Minister for England, we will need to look at that ever since I bought is the right thing to do here in Wales.
As I say, this government takes a deliberately cautious approach, we want to see more economic activity restart, and we will do so when it is safe to do so and in a way that allows us to understand the impact of all of the changes that we’re making.
And that of course is in line with the guidance and the advice before SAGE all governments across the UK.”
Asked yesterday about the possibility of Wales relaxing the 2m rule, first minister Drakeford, he said:
“We put the health of the public first, of course, we will follow the advice that the prime minister will be relying upon for any announcement that he makes.
If the advice we get through our scientific networks and through our chief medical officer is that it is possible to amend the advice we gave and things can open safely of course that is what we would want to do.
But we will assess that for ourselves, we will make decisions in a way that are right for Wales and the lens through which all decisions we make will be taken are whether or not it is possible to do things in a way that continues to provide the safety of the public.”
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement today, Mr Drakeford tweeted: “Changes to the 2 metre rule announced by UK government today only apply in England.
The 2m rule remains in place in Wales to help limit the spread of the virus. We keep this rule under constant review – our focus is on helping to save lives.”
You can view the full Welsh Government briefing below:
Yn fyw gyda’r Gweinidog Iechyd, Vaughan Gething | Live with Health Minister, Vaughan Gething https://t.co/zJhkcgzmUl
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) June 23, 2020
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