North Wales Member of the Senedd, Mark Isherwood, has challenged the First Minister over his "harsh" new Covid restrictions announced this week, highlighting some of the many messages he has received from constituents objecting to them.
Speaking in the Welsh Parliament, Mr Isherwood quoted North Wales residents and businesses owners who have contacted him since the new restrictions were unveiled on Monday and called on the First Minister to respond to their concerns.
He said: “In England, the proposals for pubs and hospitality are not the same with an absolute ban. It's a tiered approach based upon pragmatic considerations and real evidence.
“Typical amongst the deluge of messages I've received since your announcement are, and I quote, 'I appreciate this is a serious risk to ill or vulnerable people, but the measures put in place are far more worrying’.
"‘Mr Drakeford has destroyed the well-being of a nation’.
"‘My family runs two hospitality businesses, and we really can't afford any more restrictions. We have invested so much to make our establishment COVID safe. So, this is a final plea to you - please speak to our First Minister’.
“And perhaps the cruellest blow is to weddings. How do you therefore respond to the bride who wrote to me last Friday, 'I was meant to get married on 30th October and reduced the guest list to 30, but due to the Welsh circuit breaker, our venue closed. We have now pushed it back to 19th December and reduced it to 15 guests. I'm now playing “guess the date I can get married" ’, or to her father, who wrote to me today stating 'My daughter's wedding ruined for the second time!'?”
In his response the First Minister said: “The Member is entirely disingenuous in trying to pretend that restrictions in England are somehow not as strict as they are here in Wales. If you're in tier 3 in England, you will be in a far greater level of restriction than you will be here in Wales. And the position in Wales is as serious as that, and getting more serious by the day.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Isherwood added: “He had the cheek to accuse me of being ‘disingenuous’, when his disingenuous statements completely misrepresented the situation in England once lockdown lifts there on 2nd December. Whereas almost 60% of people in England will be able to visit pubs and restaurants until last orders at 10pm, with an 11pm curfew, subject to table service (Tier 1) or alcohol being served as part of a meal (Tier 2), he is blanket banning every pub, bar and restaurant in Wales from selling alcohol and forcing them all to shut at 6pm from Friday.
"He is also wrong to say that the position across Wales is as serious as Tier 3 in England, when the latest ‘cases per 100,000’ figures in Wales (Nov 23-29) show a spectrum ranging from 453.8 in Blaenau Gwent to 30.7 in Conwy.”