Today's Welsh Government announcement that a national 'circuit breaker' will come into force on Friday (23rd October) at 6pm has been criticised by the Member of the Welsh Parliament for Montgomeryshire, Russell George MS.
Mr George has said that he is disappointed in the First Minister's decision to introduce a time limited national lockdown in Wales until 9th November, describing it as "disproportionate and damaging" to rural Mid Wales which has a comparably low rate of Covid-19 infection compared with areas in urban areas of South and North Wales.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr George said:
"For me, it is clear that a blanket national "circuit breaker" to combat Coronavirus, such as the one that the Welsh Government will introduce on Friday evening will be disproportionate and damaging to the people of Powys' lives and livelihoods.
"I doubt if Powys' infection rates were high, and there were lower rates in South Wales counties, that the Welsh Government would have taken the same approach! I can't fathom how a lockdown in Powys is going to help infection rates reduce in places like Cardiff or Bridgend so I will be formally writing to the First Minister to makes these views known loud and clear.
"The health and the economy of our nation are intertwined and while safeguarding the health of those who are particularly vulnerable to this terrible virus is an absolute priority, measures have to be proportionate to the risk."
From Friday 23rd October at 6pm, a “circuit breaker” or “fire-break” will be introduced across Wales until Monday 9 November 2020.
There are 5 main things:
people must stay at home, except for very limited purposes
people must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with
certain businesses and venues, including bars, restaurants and most shops must close
secondary schools will provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings will remain open.
face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), including on public transport and in taxis.
Mr George added:
"This national lockdown will unnecessarily penalise the people of Powys from seeing their families and loved ones which would in turn have a detrimental effect on people's health.
"It will also prevent businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, from recovering from a disappointing summer season so it is vital that the Welsh Government’s decisions to implement so-called "circuit breakers" are proportionate to the threat and minimise damage to any hopes of economic recovery.
"An urban solution which may be suitable for South and North Wales isn't right for rural Mid Wales. Where we have had cases in Powys, these have been dealt with quickly by Powys Teaching Health Board and this is how we are going to beat this virus - smart, hyper-local lockdowns to reduce the spread of COVID-19 whilst minimising the economic and social impact of restrictions.
For Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Coronavirus Circuit Breaker, please visit the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions