‘They’re not very effective!’ Peston puts Drakeford on the spot over Wales’ Covid rules

Wales: Mark Drakeford defends 'effectiveness' of covid measures

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Mark Drakeford appeared on ITV’s Peston and was grilled by host Robert Peston about the soaring Covid case rate in Wales. Covid rates in the country are much higher than the rest of the UK with Wales seeing 617 cases per 100,000 people when compared to England’s 436.2 per 100,000. While not strictly following the “Plan B” option being proposed by Westminster, Wales enforces stricter Covid rules such as vaccine passports and mandatory mask-wearing with Mr Peston demanding Mr Drakeford explain why the measures were not working for Wales.

Wales has the highest Covid rate in the UK, beating England’s 436.2, Northern Ireland’s 478.5 and Scotland’s 311.1 per 100,000.

Mask-wearing is enforced by law in Wales and those entering shops, public transport or hospitals are required to wear one.

Covid passes are also required for large events and nightclubs, a proposal dropped by the UK Government.

But as Covid cases increase across the UK, health chiefs have called for Westminster to invoke their “Plan B” which would see the return of mask-wearing, working from home advice and other social distancing measures.

Mr Peston spoke with Mr Drakeford about the proposals considering Wales pretty much follows those rules currently and demanded to know why it was not working out in Wales.

He asked: “One of the things that is striking to people in England is that you already have in Wales what Boris Johnson calls his ‘Plan B’.

“But you have got this higher level of Covid infection, what do you think that tells us about the effectiveness of those measures.

“Some would say they are not very effective.”

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Mr Drakeford responded: “I don’t think that is fair, our Covid pass has only been in operation for the past week.

“I hope the Prime Minister will move to Plan B it will certainly help us in Wales to have a consistent message across the border.

“Mask-wearing in crowded places or public transport in Wales is a must, it is not a request, it is mandatory.

“I think it will be important to have everywhere as it will reinforce the message.”

The First Minister added working from home was a “significant” measure that would cut down the rates of infection and urged the UK Government to push ahead with those rules.

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Mr Drakeford called for the Government to take on SAGE’s advice to act early and deliver simple messages for the public to follow.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid played down any risk of invoking the “Plan B” measures by revealing the UK Government has purchased antivirals to help with the pandemic.

However, Mr Javid warned if people did not go for their booster shots then it could be likely the UK sees further restrictions.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon Mr Drakeford commented on the situation in Wales and said: “We’re still seeing vaccination acting as a real defence for the NHS.

“So those high numbers in the community are not translating as they would have done earlier on into people falling ill and needing hospitalisation or intensive care but nevertheless we are right to be concerned.

“Vaccination is the biggest defence and I have been talking with our officials today about what we can do to make sure that the booster programme is rolled out as fast as it’s clinically safe to do so and I’m likely to be talking to UK Government ministers later in the afternoon about how we can jointly run some campaign activity to persuade people to come forward and take the boosters.”

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