Commenting on the Wales wide lockdown announced by the First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, on Saturday,with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day, Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies said:
“Throughout much of this very difficult year, there has been a need to balance the threat of the virus with the negative consequences that lockdown and restrictions can bring to other aspects of health, particularly mental health and wellbeing, as well as the economy.
“I understand the disappointment and frustration that people feel as increasing infection rates and a new strain of Covid impact on freedoms that had been expected over Christmas. Some of these measures are absolutely necessary but I believe that, at this stage, evidence has not been produced to justify a full lockdown in North Wales.
“It is important that restrictions are evidence-based and the minimum required for the necessary effect.
“Many have rightly questioned the basis of Welsh Government measures in recent times, including:
· The five mile rule, and travel bans across often meaningless county borders
· The total ban on sales of alcohol in, and 6pm closure of, hospitality venues which have made so much effort to become “Covid-safe”
· The cordoning off of “non-essential” items in supermarkets, achieving little other than success for online retailers at the expense of local jobs
· A short unilateral all-Wales “firebreak” which ignored the unbreakable interconnection between N Wales and NW England
· A reckless sudden loosening of measures post-firebreak which quickly reversed any marginal gains
· An apparent attempt to “blame the English” and effectively close the Wales-England border – something that it should be noted the UK Government has not sought to reciprocate
Decisions to lockdown need to be based on:
- Case detection rates in all age groups
- Case detection rates in the over 60s
- The rate at which cases are rising or falling
- Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
- Pressure on the NHS
“I believe that the new Wales-wide lockdown is inappropriate because:
· Case detection rates in some areas of North Wales are among the lowest in the UK. Rates across the six North Wales Local Authorities combined are lower than the rate in some individual South Wales authorities. The current rate in Denbighshire is 10 times lower than in parts of South Wales.
· The percentage of tests returning positive in North Wales is currently 11.7%. This compares to over 30% in parts of South Wales.
· Hospital admissions in North Wales have remained unchanged for the last two months.
“Put simply, the one-size-fits-all lockdown is disproportionate and will cause avoidable harm and anxiety in my constituency. The First Minister needs to realise that, although he has the powers to enforce measures on North Wales, it is simply wrong to assume that it should be treated the same as very different and distant communities in South Wales. I would once again urge him to adopt a tiered approach to restrictions, as per other parts of the UK.
“I wrote to the First Minister last week, along with 10 Welsh Conservative MP colleagues, to share these significant concerns.”