Plaid Cymru respond to easing of travel restrictions in Wales

Distancing, handwashing and face masks now “more important” than ever says Plaid as travel restrictions eased in Wales

Responding to the announcement that travel restrictions in Wales will end on Monday, Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“We have supported the stay local rule, but wanted Welsh Government to give more flexibility, in particular in rural areas. They responded positively to that.

“Now that guidelines on limits are to be lifted altogether, what’s important is what people do at their destination. Distancing, handwashing and the wearing of face coverings now become more, not less, important.

“I’d still like to hear a firming up of face covering rules in enclosed areas, for example. Let’s also have clarity on the steps to be taken and the support that will be made available if there is a need to reintroduce some of restrictions in response to local outbreaks. And I’m also reiterating my calls to make maximum use of testing capacity so that the Test, Trace, Protect system can identify outbreaks urgently.”

‘Welsh Government needs a strategy to use Wales’ full testing capacity’ says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru has repeated its calls to widen covid-19 testing in Wales as a means to identify outbreaks early and safeguard the public. Currently there is capacity for 12,374 tests a day in Wales, but July 1st figures show only 1,410 were conducted in Wales yesterday.

Plaid’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth says that routine asymptomatic testing could be extended to more health and care workers, as well as workers in other key or vulnerable areas such as food processing.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Testing is such a core part of any successful battle against covid-19, surely we need a strategy to make the greatest use possible of the testing capacity we have. That capacity was too slow being built up, but now that we have it, it should be used.

“What I’d like to see is a clear strategy on using that capacity in the best possible way. It needs to have a clear objective, but with flexibility build in, so capacity can be shifted to respond to new outbreaks.

Questioned by Rhun in a recent meeting of the Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, Professor Deenan Pillay of the Independent Sage Committee said he agreed that use of testing capacity should be maximised, ‘according to a clear strategy”.

One GP in Mr ap Iorwerth’s Ynys Món constituency, who has called for more testing in primary care, said this was needed to protect the public.

Dr Sarah Borlace said: “I believe that regular testing should be offered to health care professionals in order to try and ensure that we are not putting our patients, colleagues and families at risk unnecessarily.”

“My colleagues and I have taken every possible precaution, but routine testing would provide extra reassurance to patients, and I believe regular testing of all healthcare workers should be a priority so we can ensure we are not exposing our patients, colleagues and families to unnecessary risk.”

Victory for Plaid Cymru following campaign to protect island constituency in new boundaries Bill

Following Plaid Cymru pressure, the Westminster Government has u-turned on protecting the status of Ynys Môn in its Parliamentary Constituencies Bill.

The legislation which seeks to reform constituencies for Westminster elections will cut the number of constituencies in Wales in order to increase the number in England.

As originally drafted the Bill failed to protect the constituency, which has existed in some form since the 16th century. Plaid Cymru had long-campaigned for the island constituency of Ynys Môn to be protected like other islands, such as the Isle of Wight.

Plaid MP Ben Lake, who sits on the Bill Committee, had tabled a number of amendments seeking to protect the constituency.

Responding to the u-turn, Ynys Môn Member of the Senedd Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“This is excellent news for the identity and democratic independence of Ynys Mon – thanks in great part to consistent pressure from Plaid Cymru. I gave evidence the last time the Boudary Commission considered this, and argued then as I argue now, that an island’s boundary is not arbitrary, and that’s why Ynys Mon has been a democratic unit at local government and parliamentary level for centuries.

“To ‘bolt-on’ a part of the mainland to the island just to make up the population would have done a great a disservice to all those represented – on both sides of the bridges.

“While Westminster still has power over so many areas of policy in Wales it is only right that our nation is properly represented.”

Delay over 2 Sisters Covid test results is ‘frustrating and worrying’ says Rhun ap Iorwerth

News that some members of staff at the 2 Sisters site in Llangefni are still waiting for their test results over a week after the outbreak was confirmed is frustrating and worrying according to Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth.

Members of the public who work at the 2 Sisters site are still contacting the Ynys Mon MS this week to express concerns regarding the delays it has taken them to receive test results, some of whom had their tests up to 12 days ago and have yet to hear anything regarding the outcome of their tests.

Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“It’s frustrating and worrying that some 2 Sisters workers have waited over a week for their covid-19 test results. Government tells us that most have come back within a day, but we know that Wales-wide, the proportion of tests taking more than 24 hours to come back has increased in recent weeks.

“That undermines the effectiveness of the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ system, because the quicker you get results back, the quicker you can start tracing contacts and asking people to isolate.

“Because of its scale, the test and trace system for the 2 Sisters outbreak is being managed on a regional level. I’ve asked Public Health Wales to explain the delays. They say the vast majority of tests are being returned quickly, but say the Health Board is responsible for the swab testing itself, so all agencies need to be clear about what’s going wrong for those who are waiting far too long.

“Whilst we’re lucky that Anglesey Council was one of the leaders in developing tracing, and was part of the Welsh pilot, any delays in test results now and in coming months will hamper their work.”

Wales must not let Boris Johnson sacrifice our rural economy, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Boris Johnson and his Conservative Members in Wales are clearly willing to sacrifice the country’s rural economy after voting down a crucial amendment to the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill, according to Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who today asked Welsh Government to do everything it can to push for assurances that the Welsh agriculture sector will be protected.

Conservative MPs recently voted down an amendment in the House of Commons that looked to safeguard the interests of Welsh farmers by ensuring that any produce imported as a result of Brexit trade deals would have to adhere to the same food and animal welfare standards as Welsh farmer do.

Mr ap Iorwerth said that this move leaves farmers and customers undermined, and today asked Welsh Government Minister for Agriculture Lesley Griffiths for assurances on the matter in the Virtual Senedd meeting.

Plaid Cymru MS for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“It was very, very disappointing that Conservative MPs representing rural constituencies in Wales, including Ynys Môn, had voted recently against an amendment to the Agriculture Bill that sought to safeguard the interests of our farmers.

“The purpose of the amendment was to ensure that imported agricultural produce under post-Brexit trade deals would have to adhere to the same animal welfare standards and other standards as farms here.

“Farmers and customers are being undermined, so today I asked once again for the Welsh Government Minister for Agriculture to push for some assurances from the UK Government that every agricultural product sold here will have to adhere to the same standards adhered to by our farmers.

“It’s clear that Boris Johnson and his Members in Wales are willing to sacrifice the rural economy, but we in Wales – between the sector of the farmers, the unions and the politicians – must do everything we can to withstand that.”

Plaid Cymru looking to draught changes to legislation to assist innovative local business

An innovative new concept devised by an Anglesey company to deliver a fresh, socially-distanced pint directly to the doors of local people has received backing from Plaid Cymru MS Rhun ap Iorwerth, who is campaigning to amend present UK legislation to enable the concept to take flight.

Just Beer Delivery Ltd, based on the island, have conducted market research which suggests their concept of delivering fresh pints door-to-door would be very popular – not just for them, but other companies like theirs who have had to put a stop to business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Current UK legislation, however, prevents them from doing this, because the drinks must be produced on their licensed premises, before being delivered as a package to any given individual, and Rhun ap Iorwerth MS is working with Westminster colleagues to see if this UK Legislation can be changed to enable pubs to take advantage of the significant market that is out there in a safe way.

Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Ynys Mon Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“The Just Beer Delivery team run the Holland Arms Hotel in Pentre Berw and, like all pubs, it has had to close during the pandemic, but the team there have brewed up an idea – if the customers can’t come in, why not take the inn to them?

“They’ve set up justbeer.delivery, which is about delivering a freshly-pulled pint on the doorstep. The safety with regards to social distancing and hygiene has all been worked out, but there needs to be a change in the law, because licensing doesn’t allow this kind of service at present.

“I’ve spoken with Plaid Cymru colleagues in Westminster who will help to push for a change in the law, not just for the Holland Arms, but for others who want to innovate and keep trading now, and as restrictions are slowly lifted as we come out of the lockdown period.”

Just Beer Delivery Ltd added:

“We want to thank the Holland Arms Hotel in Pentre Berw, as well as Rhun ap Iorwerth and his dedicated Plaid Cymru Senedd team, Isle of Anglesey Council County, Bragdy Mona Microbrewery and J. W. Lees Brewers for believing in the Just Beer Delivery Ltd idea.

“We believe this is a pioneering step forward toward saving the brewing and publicans industries in a regulated, safe and responsible manner, which is sustainable beyond Coronavirus. These unprecedented times gave rise to this unique idea which can help save so many jobs and aid the economy recovery.

“Our recent research in the public sector demonstrated the positive demand for this professional, safe method of delivery. Just Beer Delivery Ltd. found the public and customer response positively overwhelming in their support.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth requests clarification from UK Government Health Minister on PPE restrictions for dentists in Wales

Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has written a letter to Matt Hancock asking for “urgent clarification” and warns of negative health implications for Welsh public if dentists are unable to source PPE.

It follows claims that a supplier in England had been told not to sell some equipment to dentists in Wales.

In the letter, he writes that he is “expressing concern” following the claim, and refers to the implications a lack of PPE would have on plans to reopen dentists in Wales from July. He also notes that various other Welsh dentists have made similar concerns heard.

He also referred to similar claims earlier in the pandemic, where care homes where having problems accessing PPE through their usual suppliers due to a similar issue of ‘England only’ stock.

Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care, Rhun ap Iorwerth, said:

“PPE is vital for the delivery of dental care, and that any delays due to lack of PPE can lead to far reaching and negative impacts on dental health. We need urgent clarification about any restrictions that have been put in place for English-based wholesalers and their ability to sell to other UK nations.”

“Plan further ahead” Rhun ap Iorwerth urges Welsh Government as changes to lockdown rules in Wales announced

The Welsh Government should “plan further ahead” on easing restrictions, Rhun ap Iorwerth has said.

The Welsh Government today announced further changes to lockdown laws in Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said people and businesses needed a longer term view than “two and three week block” and suggested a “phased approach” as seen in other countries – with caveats that things can change.

The Shadow Health Minister repeated his call for Welsh Government to move “as fast possible” whilst “challenging and testing its evidence” in the safest way.

Mr ap Iorwerth stressed the need not to “compromise on health”.

First minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today that there would be a cautious go ahead to trips to tourist attractions from 6 July, and for booking for self-contained accommodation from 13 July.

He also confirmed that the Wales’ travel restrictions could be lifted from 6 July so people can “travel as far as they like for all purposes,” the first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“Whilst it’s good that we’re moving in the right direction in terms of lifting restrictions and that Government feels it is safe to do.

“However I still urge Government to plan further ahead. We’re moving in a two and three week blocks here. People and businesses need to have a longer term view, a kind of phased approach as seen in other countries, with dates set for likely changes – but obviously with caveats that things can change, depending on outbreaks and the R rate.

“I repeat my call for Government to move as fast as possible, continuously challenging and testing its evidence in a transparent manner, but in the safest possible way too – we can’t compromise on health, and the outbreak in my constituency reminds us of that.”

‘Show the public you’re moving as quickly AND safely as possible to lift restrictions’ Rhun ap Iorwerth urges Welsh Government

Whilst still backing a cautious ‘health-first’ approach, Rhun ap Iorwerth has urged the Welsh Government to ‘forever test and challenge’ its own advice, so Wales can lift restrictions as fast as is safe to do so.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce a review of the restrictions tomorrow (on Friday).

Citing concerns over wellbeing, and mounting economic worries, Plaid Cymru Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said the Welsh Government had to “convince people” that it was moving ahead as “quickly as possible” in the safest way.

Mr ap Iorwerth said ministers should be “continuously” testing, challenging and modelling the scientific advice it receives and called on the Government to provide a “much clearer roadmap” of how it plans to ease restrictions over coming weeks.

The Shadow Health Minister also stressed that a “robust, fast-working and far-reaching” test and trace regime was vital.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“Wales’s adherence to restrictions has been very good, and this has been key to driving down infection rates and veryone can take credit for that. But as time goes on, inevitably people will become more and more frustrated at missing loved ones and deepening financial worries.

“Welsh Government has to convince people that it’s trying to move ahead as quickly as possible, and that it’s doing what it can to bring about a ‘new normal’ – including allowing business to open up gradually and safely and allowing people more flexibility to spend time with loved ones.

“It’s not about compromising on safety, it’s about transparency. Neither is it about comparing with what’s happening in any other one country – including England. Wales must do what’s right for Wales. But it is about seeing what international evidence as a whole tells us it is safe to do, and how quickly it can be done, with the correct precautions in place – including a robust, fast-working and far-reaching test and trace regime.

“Ministers need to be continuously testing and challenging the advice they receive, and modelling options for moving forward, and to do so in as public a way as possible. There’s no reason why the Government can’t provide a much clearer roadmap of how it hopes to lift restrictions in coming weeks.”

Test and Trace Programme must be effective in all parts of Wales, says Rhun ap Iorwerth

Plaid Cymru MS Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for a quicker turnaround on obtaining coronavirus test results. Scientific advice shows that the most successful testing programmes around the world are those that can return coronavirus test results within 24 hours.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Shadow Minister for Health, has sought “further reassurance” that the test and trace elements of the programme are being speeded up and has asked Welsh Government to ensure that the efficacy of the test and trace programme is “true in all parts of Wales.”

In a paper published on Welsh Government website, the Technical Advisory Group confirms that the most successful Test, Trace and Protect schemes require test results within 24 hours. While the Welsh First Minister has stated his “ambition” to tests results back within 24 hours, currently only a third of tests are returned within these times.

Mr ap Iorwerth has called for further reassurance that work is being done to speed up the whole testing process. He says that “a quicker return of test results will better enable Wales to contain local outbreaks” through the tracing part of the programme.

Mr ap Iorwerth has also called for regional breakdown of results to make sure there are no delays in some areas, following concerns from constituents that the testing process is slower in the north of Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:

“We’ve heard from Welsh Government’s own advisers that successful test, trace and protect programmes are those that return coronavirus test results within 24 hours. The benefits are clear – if people have tested positive for coronavirus, the tracing element of the programme can be started more quickly, and we have a better chance of containing the spread. Similarly, for those who are not infected, they can return to the daily lives more quickly, and this might include key work.

“I seek further reassurance that the Welsh Government is making progress in speeding this up, as a quicker return of test results will better enable Wales to contain local outbreaks.

“I’m also calling for a regional breakdown for how long it takes to get test results. People in my constituency have raised concerns with the slowness of the testing process in north Wales. If one area of Wales sees delays in the return of test results, they’ll be slower to contact people who might be infected, and the whole local area is impacted.

“It’s vital that the test and track works effectively and quickly, and that this is true in all parts of Wales.”