News that the Welsh Government will introduce level 4 Covid-19 restrictions have been met with disappointment from the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Montgomeryshire, Russell George.
On Wednesday (16th December), the First Minister announced the decision that Wales must move to alert level 4 and tighten restrictions to 'control the spread of coronavirus and save lives.'
The new set of higher-level restrictions will apply to the whole of Wales starting on 28th December for an initial three-week period. People in Wales have been told to limit Christmas gatherings to two households together with a single person household, but the wider planned UK-wide five-day lifting of restrictions permitting households to mix will remain.
All non-essential retail, leisure and fitness centres in Wales will shut at close of trading on Christmas Eve. Hospitality premises will shut from 6pm on Christmas Day. Social contact outside households or support bubbles - whether indoors or outdoors - will not be allowed. People must also stay at home if possible and not travel without a reasonable excuse. Further details on additional business support will be made available by the end of this week.
Responding to the First Minister's announcement, Mr George said:
"It has become very clear in recent days that the Welsh Government has lost control of the pandemic in areas of South Wales. The infection rate isn't as high in all parts of the country and once again the people of Powys are being unduly penalised by an all-Wales approach.
“I have been urging the Welsh Government to take a targeted local approach, rather than an all Wales approach. The Welsh Government should have taken a firmer and targeted approach in areas of South Wales months ago.
“I wrote to the First Minister at the start of the last Wales-wide lockdown and urged him to take a local targeted approach. I very much welcome his decision to now take a regional approach but am disappointed that this will not happen directly after the Christmas period.
"I will be asking him to place Powys in the lower Alert level 3, should the rates continue to be lower in North Powys. By failing to take a different approach that adequately reflects the different levels of risk from Covid-19 in different parts of the country will disproportionately affect people's lives and livelihoods in Powys.
“I am particularly disappointed that the First Minister has made a last minute change to now only allow two households together with a single person household to meet over Christmas. This is completely unacceptable after people have made plans.
“I don’t for one moment believe that we in North Powys are complacent about the risks of this pandemic and I’m aware that there have been a rising number of cases in parts of Powys. However, I believe that a plan which will provide targeted local intervention, and earlier intervention, based on the latest data would be a more effective way of tackling outbreaks.
"It is also essential that firms are able to access the financial support that they need. I will continue to press the Welsh Government to make this available as a matter of urgency.
"Going forward, I will urge the First Minster to keep the Powys situation under urgent review in order that the alert level 4 restrictions can be lifted as soon as possible and in line with scientific evidence."