Wales’ First Minister will today be grilled by members of the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, over his government’s handling of the pandemic. The Welsh Labour leader will hear opposition politicians react to the continued COVID-19 restrictions in Wales during First Minister’s Questions. Last week, Mr Drakeford confirmed that restrictions would remain in place across Wales as he warned that infections caused by the Omicron variant will peak by this weekend.
The First Minister said experts calling for health curbs to be relaxed and booster jabs prioritised were “factually wrong”.
Among the raft of health measures introduced in Wales from Boxing Day was the so-called “rule of six” in pubs.
This is the requirement for pubs and other hospitality venues to limit group sizes to six people and keep them socially distanced.
Opposition politicians have branded this particular rule “negative”, including in the run-up to the Six Nations rugby union competition.
The torrent of criticism surrounding pubs is similar to what Mr Drakeford faced earlier on in the pandemic, after he was banned from 100 public houses in Wales.
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The West Conwy Pubwatch group slapped an 18-month ban on the Welsh leader in December 2020.
The voluntary organisation prevented Mr Drakeford from entering the premises of any of its members – theoretically until this summer.
Its dramatic move was a response to the government’s introducing a ban on alcohol sales and 6pm curfews for the hospitality industry.
In an open letter, they wrote: “All licensees have a legal duty under the Licensing Act of 2003 to ensure that disorderly, argumentative, violent behaviour and antisocial behaviour does not occur on or around their premises and to prevent the occurrence of criminal offences.
“As a result of your behaviour on November 30 2020 at the Senedd Cymru your actions class as antisocial behaviour for the damage caused to our members’ premises.
Last week, the First Minister drew further anger as he confirmed that the country’s Covid restrictions would remain.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies argued there should be a “basis for removal” of some of the health curbs, while describing the restrictions on pubs as “negative”.
He said: “While some aspects of the government’s approach might be understandable, there are some staggering anomalies.
“The rule of six in pubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues in addition to threats to Wales hosting Six Nations matches provoke more negative consequences than benefits.
“The First Minister was right when he said restrictions should not remain in place a second longer than necessary.
“As such, a roadmap forward from the Labour government is vital as we learn to live with the virus and provide families and businesses with a plan and much-needed clarity.”
Mr Drakeford is to provide a new Covid update today alongside the statement on Wales’ draft budget for 2022-2023 and First Minister’s Questions.