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Covid-19 means Welsh laws can be drafted 'within hours'

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image caption"Welsh law affects the Welsh people in a way it's never done before," according to the Welsh Government's top legislative lawyer

Welsh laws can be drafted within hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Welsh Government's top legislative lawyer.

First Legislative Counsel Dylan Hughes said it was a process which would usually take "several weeks or months".

He leads the Office of the Legislative Counsel, a team of specialist lawyers who draft Welsh laws.

In the past six months, Mr Hughes said 115 pieces of Welsh legislation had been made relating to restrictions.

On Friday, a law came into force which banned people from travelling to Wales from coronavirus hotspots elsewhere in the UK.

And on Monday, the Welsh Government is expected to announce a national lockdown described as a "short, sharp" circuit-breaker to slow down the spread of the virus.

image captionDylan Hughes says legislation implementing a lockdown in Bangor had to be drafted late on a Friday evening

Mr Hughes's team do no not always get a lot of notice.

For example, when Bangor went into a local lockdown last Saturday, Mr Hughes said the legislation had to be drafted late on the Friday.

Before the pandemic, he said implementing such a ministerial decision could have taken "several weeks or even months".

"But these days it can take a couple of hours," Mr Hughes explained.

"Even in quite a common situation at the moment it takes around three days between taking the decision and drafting and publishing the legislation."

'Very unusual'

He argued such a shift in the legislative process represented a significant change to the way people were governed in Wales

"Welsh law affects the Welsh people in a way it's never done before.

"The fact that people's daily habits are regulated by it is very unusual and Welsh law has to be an important part now of people's lives."

Despite a very busy period for him and his team, he said he would "never compare" their work with that of NHS staff.

"It's been a a difficult time for those of us who work for the Welsh Government," he concluded.

"At times, the hours have been long seven days a week and things move very quickly, which means there's a lot of pressure on everyone."

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