First Minister Mark Drakeford has reiterated the main reason for banning fans from stadiums is how they travel to and from the venue.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the ban, which came into force on Boxing Day, will continue for now with Covid-19 cases surging across Wales.

It is becoming a very real concern for the Welsh Rugby Union, who are less than a month away from the start of the Six Nations, when they are due to host three home matches.

Losing out on the revenue those games would bring in would be a significant blow.

Mr Drakeford insisted that fans being in an outdoor stadium was less of a concern than how they arrived and left.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, he said: “It is not so much of what happens within the stadium, where the stadium itself is properly regulated as the Welsh Rugby Union have done here, it is the way they get to the stadium, way they leave the stadium and behave around the stadium.

“There is lots of evidence from around the world that these are risky contexts and when risk is as high as it is in Wales today, it just isn’t a proportionate thing to do, to add that risk, to drive more people to be ill, more people in hospital when the system itself is under such enormous pressure.”

Those three home games would be worth in the region of £20 million to the WRU and losing out on that money, after what has happened in the last two years, would be another seismic hit.

It would be particularly hard to stomach as games go ahead with sellout crowds in England and it has led to the WRU reportedly exploring the possibility of moving their home games over the Severn Estuary – a move backed by the likes of Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams and Liam Williams.

Nothing has been confirmed, but health minister Eluned Morgan warned earlier this week that there could be financial consequences for the WRU if they did that.

Drakeford added: “Of course you have to weigh it all up. There is no risk-free way of responding to the level of danger that we see form coronavirus in the United Kingdom at the moment. The Welsh Government is able to control all the things we are able to control.

“In other parts of people’s personal lives, then each individual has to make a responsible decision for themselves.

“It is a galling thing for someone who is going into work in a Welsh hospital today, to be putting themselves at risk, to treat other people who could have avoided it through vaccination.

“Equally, it must be very galling for people to be treating people who have deliberately done things that put themselves and risk, and now have to rely on the help that others have to afford for them.”

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He continued: “I think the Welsh Rugby Union’s record during the whole of the pandemic has been a creditable one.

“It was the Welsh Rugby Union who cancelled the game against Scotland early on in the pandemic, before governments were asking them to do that, Welsh Rugby Union who made Principality Stadium available as a field hospital, and the Welsh Rugby Union who ran the Autumn Internationals with the new Covid pass in place very successfully.

“They always played their part in helping to keep people in Wales safe, and I am sure they will want to go on making sure that reputation for working closely with the Welsh Government, and doing the right thing is the way their decision making will be guided.”





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