Wednesday 13 May 2020


Vaughan Gething

Wales health minister Vaughan Gething has become embroiled in another Covid-related row.  On Saturday he was spotted by members of the public sitting at a picnic table in Cardiff eating a meal with his family.  This was despite the lockdown having been extended in Wales the previous day and Welsh government advice dictating that neither 'having a picnic' or a 'prolonged period on a park bench' were allowed.

Eyewitnesses expressed dismay that the health minister wasn't practicing as he preached.  One told The Sun: "He was really relaxed, enjoying the sunshine with his family on a beautiful day in Cardiff Bay.  I was confused and surprised when I saw him sitting down because I thought we weren't allowed to do that".  The minister is said to have spent more than 15 minutes sitting at the table munching on chips and enjoying the sunshine.

Gething (in red shirt) having a sit down meal in Cardiff

Gething has denied that he broke any rules: "I went out for a walk with my family, as many of us have done over the weekend.  My son was on his scooter and we went local to ourselves.  It's a walk we do from time to time.  We stopped for food on the way.  All of those things are within the regulations, so there is absolutely no breach of the guidance or the rules themselves".

A spokesman for the Welsh government also backed him: "Absolutely nothing the minister is reported to have done contravenes Welsh government regulations.  Walking and eating food along the way with members of your household is allowed.  Walking a couple of miles from home is exercising locally and is permitted under our regulations.  Buying takeaway food from a café/takeaway is permitted under our regulations".

The last part of that statement would be of great interest to anyone who has been moved on or fined by the police for doing exactly that.  While Gething and his Labour colleagues all claim that he has done nothing wrong, it's interesting to note that the minister's attire on Saturday suggested an attempt was made to disguise himself.  In addition to his baseball cap he wore sunglasses.

When the First Minister addressed the Senedd on Wednesday he faced repeated questions about Gething's behaviour.  Darren Millar, Conservative MS for Clywd West, put it to Mark Drakeford: "It looks to the public it's one rule for the health minister and another rule for them".   Millar went on to ask when the minister would be removed from his post.  This was the second time in less than a month there have been calls for Gething to go.  Last month he was caught swearing off camera during a conference call.  Mark Drakeford refused to take action then and defended his minister on Wednesday over this latest escapade.

Can you imagine the national outcry if Matt Hancock had been photographed having a sit down lunch at a picnic table?  It's highly doubtful that Hancock would survive, but even more doubtful that he has the time to spare to engage in such activity anyway.