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Mark Drakeford says ‘best hope’ is that self-catering accommodation will be opened

Sunday, 7th June 2020, 4:36 pm

Updated Sunday, 7th June 2020, 4:36 pm

Wales will remain largely shut over the summer with visitors likely to be restricted to staying in cottages and self-catering flats, the Welsh first minister has warned holidaymakers.

Mark Drakeford said the “best hope” was that tourists would be allowed to sleep in entirely self-contained accommodation because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.

In an interview with i, he indicated that the ban on travelling more than five miles in Wales would remain in place well into July, and said he did not expect mass gatherings such as sports events and concerts to resume until next year.

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Mr Drakeford said: “I have not given up on the idea that we may be able to rescue some limited parts of the tourism season, although we are not yet there in being able to make those decisions.”

Hotel reopening ‘much harder’

He said: “The best hope is that we will be able to allow people to come back to visit Wales in accommodation that is entirely self-contained, where in effect you could be self-isolated if you needed to be, if you were to fall ill [so] you would not be not posing an additional risk to others.”

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford (Photo: Getty)

Asked about the likelihood of any reopening of hotels or bed and breakfasts, he replied: “It’s much harder because they would literally be sharing facilities in those places and coronavirus is unrestrained when people get together.”

Mr Drakeford said the limit in Wales on people travelling around five miles was designed to avoid the “awful scenes” of crowded English beaches and beauty-spots in recent weeks. And he said he did not expect to ease the guidance when it is next reviewed on 18 June.

“We will continue to provide a ‘stay local’ message. The reason we do it is entirely for a public health reason that when people travel you can be completely asymptomatic, you have no idea you’ve got the infection yourself.

“It is a silent spreader, you can be taking the virus with you and the more you travel the more places that virus ends up in.”

Covid ‘likes damp and cold’

The first minister said he did not anticipate crowds being allowed to sporting events or concerts this year.

“They are right at the very end of this spectrum, a long way off,” he said.

“The coronavirus crisis hit us just as the days were getting longer and just as the weather was getting better. The autumn will be the opposite, the days will be getting colder, shorter and damper and coronavirus likes the dark, the damp and the cold.

“We can’t possibly put ourselves in the position when we are running extra risks when the intrinsic risks of the virus may be more dangerous.”

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford (Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

He complained that contact with the UK government had been “very ad hoc” during the pandemic.

“It’s as and when. Weeks can go by and there’s no contact, and then you get a burst of contact,” he said.

“When contact happens it’s generally good and worthwhile, and I wish there was more of it.”

Independence case ‘weakened’

But he argued that the health emergency had weakened the case for independence.

“What if we were trying to compete for PPE in a globally competitive market when we have 3m people to be buying for without  the clout in the marketplace that buying on behalf of 60m gives you.

“Our ability to be part of the United Kingdom in those big picture issues has been very much to Wales’ advantage.”

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