Local Restrictions in Wrexham, Flintshire, Conwy and Denbighshire
Having carefully monitored Covid-19 infection levels across North Wales in recent weeks, it came as something of a surprise to us to learn of the restrictions that the Welsh Government intends to impose on Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham from 6pm tomorrow.
The general public is understandably frustrated as we enter the seventh month of pandemic restrictions, and scepticism of the value of the restrictions has risen.
It is our responsibility as elected members to defend public health measures where they are necessary to protect our vulnerable members of society. However, in order for us to be able to do so, decisions must be seen to be made on hard evidence and to be proportionate; they should take into account the negative, as well as the positive, impacts of proposed measures; and they should be transparent and subject to debate.
We accept that Covid-19 infection rates have generally risen across North Wales during September – although they remain significantly lower than those within local lockdown areas elsewhere. It is understood that raised case numbers largely relate to household transmission, as well as an element within the hospitality and healthcare sectors. There is very limited evidence that either travel or tourism is driving raised infection rates. For this reason, travel restrictions have not generally been introduced for local lockdowns in England.
Bearing this in mind, we believe that the Welsh Government’s proposed “within county” travel restrictions are disproportionate. This is especially the case when the implications of the policy are considered: the county shapes and borders do not necessarily relate to the way people in North Wales live their lives, and each county comprises of vastly differing population densities, communities and infection rates.
We would strongly urge reconsideration of the scope of the restrictions, to take into account the devastating impact of travel restrictions on the wellbeing and livelihoods of local people, and a commitment to review the measures regularly. Furthermore, community by community data is needed to back up decisions taken, and regular communication justifying decisions must be shared with all stakeholders, including ourselves.
It is important that all take the threat of the virus seriously and take responsibility for their actions so that we can successfully minimise the impact of a second wave of the pandemic in North Wales.
Sarah Atherton MP
Simon Baynes MP
Virginia Crosbie MP
Dr James Davies MP
Janet Finch-Saunders MS
Mark Isherwood MS
Rt Hon David Jones MP
Darren Millar MS
Robin Millar MP
Rob Roberts MP