‘Relieved’ Watson welcomes smaller Christmas and new alert level for New Year

Joyce Watson MS says she is ‘relieved’ that coronavirus restriction in Wales will be strengthened over the Christmas period and into the new year.

On Wednesday (16 Dec) First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that only two households – plus an additional single person who lives alone – will be able to meet between 23 and 27 December, under new laws. Non-essential shops will close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve, with a new form of lockdown starting on 28 December.

Ahead of the announcement, the Labour member for Mid and West Wales said she was” very nervous” about people visiting the region over the Christmas period.

Speaking in the Senedd chamber on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mrs Watson warned that local health services were struggling to cope and welcomed the new Wales-wide restrictions.

Joyce Watson MS said:

“The situation is in extreme danger of spiralling out of control.

“In our local health board area of Hywel Dda, there are 930 health board staff either absent or sick or isolating. So, it isn’t simply the numbers of people who find themselves unfortunately in hospital, but it’s the people who are able and available to treat those people.

“I’ve heard the argument about, ‘Small numbers of infection, so leave us alone’. But they are actually served by small hospitals, with small numbers of staff as well.

Narrow Path

“We are walking a very narrow path here, but we do have, as many people have said, a vaccine—or rather, vaccines—in view, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“We must be guided by two key things, and those are collective effort, which we’re seeing here today, and personal responsibility.

“We all owe our health staff and other front-line workers a duty, and that is to try to give them some hope for the new year, so that we don’t overwhelm them.

“Whether you live in Cardiff or Crymych or Criccieth or Carno, the message and the rules will be the same.”

Mark Drakeford thanked Mrs Watson for her support, saying:

“Can I thank Joyce Watson for what she has said? One of the prime reasons why the Cabinet decided to bring forward this announcement to today was to make sure that people who work at the front line of our health and social care services knew that their Government was taking action on their behalf.

“That sense of relief that Joyce Watson referred to I think will be shared by those people who now know that actions are being taken in Wales, that we are not shying away from them, that we will not do what is sometimes the easy thing in avoiding the difficult messages Governments have to share.”