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Fines should be ‘last resort’ on public adherence to Covid rules says Plaid Cymru

FINES should be a “last resort” when it comes to effective measures to help the public stick to the rules, Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy Minister Helen Mary Jones MS has said.

At a time when increased restrictions have now been announced for six local authorities in Wales, Plaid Cymru has today laid out its three priorities for supporting the public in sticking to these:

1. Further financial support for families who have to isolate but who cannot work from home;

2. Increased local investment in local teams who can help support and persuade individuals to follow Coronavirus restrictions in their area;

3. Financial penalty for those who continue to break restrictions, with the amount rising for repeat offenders.

Ms Jones has renewed calls on Welsh Government and Westminster to provide a package of financial support for families that have had to self-isolate but who are unable to work from home.

The Shadow Economy Minister says that workers mustn’t be put in the “impossible position” of feeling like their only option is to go to work when they’re feeling unwell, or if they’ve been told to isolate through contact with someone with coronavirus.

With the UK furlough scheme drawing to an end, and local lockdowns now called for six local authority areas, the need for a package of financial support, says Plaid Cymru, is critical.

Ms Jones also called for increased investment in local teams who can support and persuade individuals to follow guidelines. Ms Jones says that these measures must be in place before resorting to financial penalties for those flouting restrictions.

Additional Coronavirus restrictions are already in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf county boroughs, with Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent joining the list this week.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy Minister Helen Mary Jones MS said,

“Workers must not be placed in the impossible position of feeling like their only option is to go to work when unwell, or isolating in case they have been infected. And yet, without a dedicated package of support, families will be forced to make this difficult decision.

“The Welsh Government must take some responsibility for this. If Westminster won’t extend furlough scheme to support local lockdowns, then the Welsh Government needs to look at what support they might be able to provide.

“It is also important that local teams are properly resourced and empowered to help support their local communities in adhering to lockdown restrictions. With six local authorities now dealing with increased restrictions, this becomes all the more important.

“Without first putting in the appropriate support at a local level, it is unfair to consider financial penalties for those breaking the rules. Fines should be a last resort and reserved for those who behave selfishly, despite warnings. If those people continue putting others at risk, fines should be increased for repeat offences.”

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