North Wales MS Mark Isherwood has today implored the Welsh Government to stop penalising the hospitality and tourism industry and to adopt a more proportionate and targeted approach to tackling the coronavirus in Wales.
Speaking in the Welsh Conservatives Debate this afternoon on “Coronavirus – December Restrictions”, Mr Isherwood highlighted the detrimental impact the Welsh Government’s new regulations are having on hospitality and tourism businesses in North Wales and called on the First Minister to consider the evidence, and change his “brutal broad brush approach”.
He criticised the Welsh Government for ignoring the evidence showing minimal Covid-19 infection rates in licensed premises, and quoted West Conwy Pubwatch, who in a letter to the First Minister said his “ruling to keep Welsh pubs open whilst not allowing us to serve alcohol is a complete and utter joke that makes no sense” , and pubs in Wrexham and Flintshire who have stated that the First Minister’s actions amount to a public message “don’t drink in Wales to save lives … but travel to England for a pint and chips instead, taking away from the Welsh economy at a detrimental time of year and handing it to the English economy”.
Mr Isherwood said North Wales hospitality businesses affected have said the Welsh Government is “out of touch, inconsistent and bordering the realms of Dictatorship”.
He also quoted from a letter from a Solicitor representing a hospitality business which states that businesses in rural areas “are being placed at a disadvantage by the Welsh Government’s refusal to consider a tier system or more localised measures to combat and contain Covid 19”.
Speaking from the Chamber, Mr Isherwood said:
“As the British Institute of Innkeeping said this month “our pubs were amongst hospitality venues that safely welcomed 60 Million visitors a week throughout the summer, with no discernible impact on National Infection rates. September then created a perfect storm for pubs, with pubs and hospitality being unfairly implicated”.
“Speaking in Plenary only four weeks ago, I highlighted the North Wales Tourism survey on the Impact of lockdowns on the tourism, hospitality, retail, leisure sectors and their supply chains in North Wales, which found that 39% of tourism, hospitality, retail and leisure businesses in North Wales would cease trading if there were any further national or local lockdowns.
“I emphasised their call on the Labour Welsh Government to conduct meaningful regional and local business engagement before any more lockdowns are imposed, yet they were ignored.
“Last week, an open letter was sent to the First Minister by the North Wales Mersey Dee Business Council on behalf of over 150 businesses across every County in North Wales. As this states ‘like businesses across Wales and the wider UK, our businesses have invested considerable time and money to make their venues and businesses Covid safe, and direct evidence instances of them being linked to any material extent for transmission of COVID19 seems not to exist. In the few days since the announcement of extra restrictions in Wales, large numbers of businesses have had to cancel bookings worth tens of thousands of pounds to them, essentially wiping out any real hope of a last ditch source of revenue at the end of a disastrous year, with expectations of the same for the coming months’.”
Mr Isherwood also quoted comments he had received from Doctors, who warned that ‘Increasingly stringent regulation which is not evidence based will alienate those who do understand the need for some restrictions and changes to life for a period and encourage them to ignore the restrictions’, and who said that “instead of penalising hardworking people, the First Minister needs to listen to their calls and urgently review his ruthless measures before it is too late for them’.”
Mr Isherwood added: “As our Motion states, we call upon the Welsh Government to adopt a more proportionate and targeted approach to tackling the coronavirus in Wales.”