Welsh First Minister tells James O'Brien he's keen to create UK-wide Covid approach

13 May 2020, 13:48

Welsh First Minister tells James O'Brien he's keen to create UK-wide Covid approach

By Fiona Jones

First Minister of Wales told James O'Brien that he is still keen to create a UK-wide coronavirus approach but needs "reliable and regular" response from the government to do so.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said, "Our message remains stay home and stay local. We are allowing to people to leave home more than once a day for exercise, but we're definitely not saying to people you can jump in your car and travel a long distance for that exercise."

"The more contact we have with other people, the faster the virus will spread."

The two metre social distancing rule has been made a Welsh legal requirement for those returning to work, which Mr Drakeford hoped means workplaces have already adapted.

The First Minister told James that Welsh schools are open for key workers and vulnerable children; other cohorts of children will not be returning at the start of June, he said, but at "some point in the summer term."

"How much of a difficulty is presented to your policies by the fact that we are pursuing different policies just a few hundred yards away?" James asked.

First Minister Mark Drakeford calls for "regular" and "reliable" contact from the government
First Minister Mark Drakeford calls for "regular" and "reliable" contact from the government. Picture: PA

Mr Drakeford said, "I am still keen that we have a four nation UK fundamental approach to how we come out of coronavirus and we do it in a careful, cautious way, always with our eye on the impact on public health."

"We are used in Wales to there being differences along the border," he said,"what would help a lot though is if our UK colleagues could just be clearer with people when they are speaking on behalf of the whole United Kingdom, as the Prime Minister was when he was talking about quarantine at the border, and when he will be talking simply about...England."

He said the message in England that you can jump in your car and go wherever you like "is a real problem for us because we do not want to see queues of people try to climb up Snowdon or heading to beaches in Wales."

Those that try will be stopped by the police who would explain and educate - these conversations are "almost always positive" and by and large it works, Mr Drakeford said.

James asked how much influence Mr Drakeford felt as the Welsh First Minister over the UK government's policy.

He replied that generally it is good, but "engagement has not been regular or reliable enough."

"Over the last three weeks of regulations we had no contact for two weeks and in the final week we suddenly get more conversation. What I'd like to see is a regular, reliable rhythm to our engagement with the UK government because the more we talk, the more we share, the more we understand one another, the better the chance becomes we can maintain a UK wide approach."

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