A club treasurer said its site was’ dragged through the mud ‘after Wales’ health minister linked a cluster of coronavirus to a trip to Doncaster some of its members made.
Phillip Brown said the Lindsay Cons Club had been “practically blamed” for the spread of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
His club had to close days before the trip due to fears of Covid-19 – a number of people later falling ill.
Vaughan Gething mentioned the trip when he announced the area lockdown.
At a Welsh government televised press conference on Wednesday, he gave examples of clusters of coronavirus cases to Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), including an associate “at a club outing to the races in Doncaster, who turned stopped in a series of pubs on the way “.
The health minister did not name the club involved, although it later emerged, and Mr Brown said the way Mr Gething had handled the situation had been “an absolute disgrace”.
The minister was also criticized by political rivals after saying the group attended the races in Doncaster – when he later appeared they did not attend the racetrack.
What happened during the trip?
Mr Brown, Abercynon club treasurer, said the bus trip itself was not organized by the site and was arranged by someone who was not a member.
He said four or five of his members went to stay in Doncaster for two nights, before returning on Sunday.
It was an annual trip to the races, but on this occasion the group did not attend the racetrack.
He said he thought they had probably been to some pubs in Doncaster, but hadn’t stopped at any along the way, as the minister said.
The club itself had closed after a member of bar staff developed symptoms last Wednesday.
A club member was confirmed to have Covid-19 on Thursday, and a total of 15-20 members and staff have since fallen ill.
Mr Brown said he had been in contact with the board of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Public Health Wales with details of who had been at the club this weekend.
He said the way Mr. Gething handled the case was an “absolute disgrace”.
“They dragged our club through the mud, practically blaming us for a situation at Rhondda Cynon Taf and blocking themselves because they feel we are responsible,” he said.
“We are not responsible. We have taken all possible steps to help Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government. “
“They didn’t stop in pubs on the way”
Donna Clifton, whose partner was traveling, said the group had not stopped at any pub on the way, as the Minister of Health claimed.
« [It was] what normally happens during the trip: they had a bet, they had a pint, like what happens every year, nothing was done differently, ”she says.
Ms Clifton, whose partner returned from the trip with Covid-19, said: ‘They go straight to Doncaster, to a pub, to a hotel, back on Sunday. “
Qu’a dit M. Gething?
After his press conference, Mr Gething repeated the club trip anecdote in an interview with BBC Wales.
He said the club had “organized a great trainer for the Doncaster races stopping in pubs”.
But Doncaster Racecourse later issued a statement saying it had no South Wales reservations. The racecourse had been ordered to stop spectators after the opening day on Wednesday.
After the British Horseracing Authority asked for further clarification, the Welsh government issued a tweet saying: ‘We understand that although the group’s original intention was to go to Doncaster Racecourse, the group is not entered the racetrack as originally planned. “
What did the opposition politicians say?
Welsh Conservative health spokesman Andrew RT Davies called for an apology and said the Doncaster episode showed ‘staggering incompetence’ on the part of the Welsh government.
Mr Davies said the ‘false allegation’ regarding the racecourse was ‘another example of staggering incompetence on the part of the Minister of Health and the Welsh Labor government’.
Calling the turn of events’ shambolic ‘, he added:’ In a public health crisis, it is vital that the information the government and ministers provide to the people of Wales is accurate, and as such, the case needs to be corrected and a clarification and apology to be provided immediately by the Welsh Labor government. ”
Plaid Cymru health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth said, “How did this happen? Any group traveling from place to place for a drinking session is blatantly irresponsible right now, but the government must correct its facts. “
What did the Welsh government say?
BBC Wales asked why the Minister of Health had not said at the press conference that the trip did not take place at the racetrack.
In response, a spokesperson said: “The Doncaster Group cluster is one of the many clusters in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area.
“Contact tracing teams continue to follow up on contacts from this cluster.”
Public Health Wales reported three deaths of people with coronavirus on Thursday, the first recorded in the country since August 31.
A lockdown went into effect at Rhondda Cynon Taf on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. BST.