Welsh leader and Government see drop in support in new coronavirus poll

Confidence in the Welsh Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has plummeted since it introduced tough new rules on hospitality businesses, according to a new study by YouGov.

Trust in First Minister Mark Drakeford’s handling of Covid-19 also saw a sizeable fall in the space of just one month in the survey carried out among the Welsh public last week.

The Welsh Labour-led Government imposed new rules on December 4 which forced pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes to stop selling alcohol and to shut by 6pm, sparking criticism from the public and opposition politicians.

The YouGov poll, published on Tuesday, said 47% of people now think the Government is doing a bad job, a rise of 19 percentage points from the 28% who said so in November before the new rules came in.

It also found that only 45% think the Government is doing well, a drop of 21 percentage points compared with the 66% who said so a month ago, leaving Cardiff Bay with a net score of minus 2, its lowest rating since the start of the pandemic.

Support for Mr Drakeford also fell, with 44% now saying they trust him a great deal or a fair amount, a drop of 11 percentage points, while the number of people who said they do not trust him much or at all rose by 12 percentage points to 45%.

The poll showed a split in the Welsh public’s support of the latest restrictions on hospitality, with 46% opposing them and 45% in favour.

In comparison, support for the 17-day firebreak lockdown between October 23 and November 9 saw 60% in favour and 26% against, despite criticism of a ban on the sale of non-essential items in supermarkets.

The rules restricting hospitality were described as “disproportionate” by the Welsh Conservatives, while Plaid Cymru said it was “deeply regretful” and the result of a lack of tighter restrictions in the aftermath of the firebreak.

Defending the move at the time, Mr Drakeford said: “I take the decisions that I do because I know that they are the right decisions and that they will save lives here in Wales.

“Even when the decisions are difficult, so long as I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I am doing what I believe – with all the evidence that we draw on and the advice that we get – that I am doing and this Government is doing the right thing.

“That is what has to matter to me, not whether it is in a temporary way unpopular or that other people might take a different view.”

But the YouGov poll showed that Mr Drakeford and his Government still enjoy greater support from the Welsh public compared with Boris Johnson and his UK Government.

It found that 67% do not trust the Prime Minister to make the right decisions compared with 26% who do, while 62% believe the UK Government is handling the pandemic badly compared with 31% who think it is doing well.

And 53% of people surveyed still favour the approach taken in Wales to tackle the virus compared with just 15% who prefer the approach in England, with a quarter (25%) saying they would not be happy with either.

– The poll questioned 1,031 Welsh adults aged 16 and over between December 7 and 11.

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