Assembly members have posed questions to the First Minister in the Senedd in a debate about emergency laws to tackle coronavirus.
The draconian new laws would allow authorities to take people into or keep them in quarantine, or direct a person to attend a designated place; restrict or prohibit mass gatherings; and close premises.
It is a UK Government bill, but has been written with the administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The law, and its sweeping powers that will last two years, is expected to come into force by the end of the month.
Only 12 AMs could attend the debate in Cardiff Bay on March 24 – among them Caerphilly AM Hefin David and Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM Dawn Bowden.
Speaking in the Senedd, Ms Bowden thanked key workers for “keeping our frontline and emergency services going” and thanked Welsh Government for its handling of the “unprecedented” situation.
Ms Bowden voiced her concern about the people stockpiling goods at supermarkets, and highlighted the situation in France, where “only one person per trolley is allowed into the store. Everyone who comes into the store is offered hand sanitiser as they enter and they leave. There are one way systems in operation and clearly-marked distancing in the stores”.
Ms Bowden asked: “Is there something that we can learn from how they are managing this in France?”
Mr Drakeford replied: “I’m sure there are things we can learn from other places.
“We talked yesterday with other UK governments about measures that we might be able to put in place and there are powers that we could use in Wales if the position demanded it.”
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Ms Bowden’s second question centred on a constituent working a zero-hours contract. She said the constituent can no longer work due to the ongoing situation and highlighted the need to end the five-week waiting period for Universal Credit payments.
Ms Bowden also said the constituent’s children are now eligible for free school meals, and asked about money being fast-tracked for free school meal applicants and for the additional meals that would need to be made available.
Mr Drakeford responded by appealing to the UK Government to end the five-week waiting period.
He added: “The Welsh Government announced £7m in additional funding to local authorities to help them deal with the increased number of students coming through the door with free school meals.
“Let me be clear with local authorities, free school meals are an entitlement – if a child meets the rules, the child gets a free school meal.”
Meanwhile, Caerphilly AM Dr David raised a number of concerns, including those about education settings and support for children with additional learning needs, particularly the children of key workers.
He asked: “If both parents are key workers with children under school age, can the child be transported to a non-vulnerable relative to provide childcare, or can the relative travel to a house to support childcare with those key workers if they are unable to access a childcare setting?”
Mr Drakeford replied: “I think they are covered by the rules and allow that child to be transported to the person who will be looking after them.”
Mr Drakeford also said the Welsh Government’s Education Minister, Kirsty Williams AM, was in discussion with local authorities about special schools.
The FM said: “Where children have a physical illness, or a physical condition that renders them vulnerable, they should stay at home.”
Dr David also asked about volunteers, overcrowding on trains and whether or not motorists will be able to have their MOTs done at garages.
In response, the FM said people are still able to take cars to garages, while on the topic of volunteers, said: “Of course we will want people to go on volunteering. One of the reasons people are able to leave home is to help a vulnerable person, and we will be relying on volunteers, particularly for those who will need to be shielded for many weeks, to help us with that effort.”
In his final question to the FM, Dr David mentioned the importance of community journalism, highlighting Caerphilly Observer as an example.
He asked the FM to ensure funding is evenly distributed among local press organisations and called for the remaining funds in the it Community Journalism Fund, which Caerphilly Observer has previously benefited from, to be distributed quickly as “it is currently sitting in there and unable to be accessed”.
The £200,000 fund has been used by several independent publishers for a variety of projects such as boosting staff hours, training, and marketing materials.
However around £80,000 has been left unspent.
The Independent Community News Network – an organisation based at Cardiff University which acts as a voice for independent publishers – has been pushing for the fund to be re-opened and accessed for general funding during the coronavirus crisis.
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Latest information on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Most cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) seem to be mild.
Coronavirus is a viral disease that can cause coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. It can be more severe in older people, those with weakened immune systems and some long-term conditions like diabetes or cancer.
Source: Public Health Wales