Mark Drakeford Lashes Out At 'Politically Paralysed' Boris Johnson Over Lack Of Covid Restrictions

"The real question is 'Why is England such a global outlier?'"
Mark Drakeford lashed out at Boris Johnson on Friday
Mark Drakeford lashed out at Boris Johnson on Friday

Mark Drakeford took aim at Boris Johnson and the absence of Covid restrictions in England during a Friday press conference.

As the first minister of Wales, he was defending his devolved government’s decision not to relax the current strict measures in place.

It followed the prime minister’s promise that England could “ride out” the Omicron infection wave without imposing further restrictions.

Drakeford said: “The outlier here is not Wales. Wales is taking action here as is Scotland, as is Northern Ireland.

“As are countries right across Europe and as across the globe.

“The one country that stands out as not taking action to protect its population is England.

“The question is not, ‘why is Wales not following what’s going on in England?’

“The real question is why is England such a global outlier in the way in which government elsewhere are attempting to protect their populations from coronavirus?”

England has the highest infection rate out of the four UK nations at the moment, and an estimated 1 in 15 people had Covid in England in the last week of 2021.

By comparison, one in 20 had it in Wales and Scotland, and one in 25 in Northern Ireland, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Drakeford continued: “And the political contrasts between Wales and England is there: Here in Wales, we have a government that is capable of acting and determined to act when that is necessary to protect our population.

“And in England we have a government that is politically paralysed with a prime minister unable to secure an agreement through his cabinet to take the actions that his advisers have been telling him ought to have been taken.

“And even if he could get his cabinet to agree them, he can’t get his MPs to agree them either.”

Johnson’s cabinet is said to be split between locking down and maintaining the current freedoms in England.

Wales has been under alert level 2 since Boxing Day, December 26.

This means the two-metre social distancing rule is still in place, and groups no larger than six can meet in cinemas, restaurants and pubs while clubs are still shut.

Licensed premises have to implement table service, face coverings and the collection of contact tracing details. Venues hosting large indoor activities can only host 30 people, while outdoor activity venues can host up to 50.

Ventilation, reduced contact and the regular use of lateral flow tests are all encouraged, while the work from home advice has been reinstated.

Drakeford suggested Omicron’s peak is still between “10 to 14 days away” meaning those who want to relax measures as “factually wrong”.

He also pulled apart the claims that Omicron is a variant we can “take likely”, saying such claims do not resemble “the actual position we are facing”.

Speaking about Wales, he said: “We have a tough few weeks ahead and we are not in a position to withdraw any of the protections.”

Infection rates in all four UK nations have shot up since Omicron was first identified as a variant of concern towards the end of November.

Covid-19 case rates in UK nations
Covid-19 case rates in UK nations
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