BREAKING NEWS
This content is not available in your region

'Firebreak' lockdown announced in Wales in effort to halt spread of coronavirus

Access to the comments Comments
A 17-day lockdown has been announced in Wales as the country battles coronavirus
A 17-day lockdown has been announced in Wales as the country battles coronavirus   -   Copyright  Geoff Caddick / AFP
Text size Aa Aa

A "firebreak" lockdown across Wales has been announced, lasting more than two weeks, to halt the spread of coronavirus.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the strict lockdown measures will be in force from 6pm on Friday 23 October until Monday November 9.

People will be told to stay at home, with all non-essential retail, leisure and hospitality businesses having to close.

Community centres, libraries and recycling centres will be shut, and places of worship will only be open for funeral or wedding ceremonies.

Except for critical workers and jobs where it isn't possible, people will have to work from home.

And while primary schools will re-open after the half-term week, only pupils in years 7 and 8 will return to secondary school during the period of lockdown.

Drakeford said the measure were a "short sharp shock to turn back the clock and give us time".

“If we do not act now, infections will continue to accelerate and there's a risk our NHS would be overwhelmed,” he said.

“The number of people in hospital with corona is accelerating. Critical care units are already full. Unless we act now, the NHS won't be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling ill.”

He added that if Wales didn't act now, more would die from the virus and therefore more extreme measures to get the virus back under control would have to be imposed, such as an "open-ended lockdown" like the UK saw in March.

"We will not see the benefit of these two weeks by 9 November, the benefits will be seen in the weeks following the two weeks," Drakeford added.

Opposition leader Keir Starmer has called on the government to follow the advice of the government's own scientific advisors and implement a two-week lockdown nationwide.

A "firebreak" lockdown has however not been announced in the rest of the UK by Boris Johnson's government.

The situation in the rest of the UK

England has introduced a regional three-tier sytem, where if the number of cases per 100,000 people crosses a threshold, an area will be at medium alert, high alert or very high alert.

The three tiers then have their own restrictions, with pubs and restaurants closing in very high risk areas, and a ban on mixing of households.

In Northern Ireland a lockdown lasting four weeks came into force on Friday.

All pubs and restaurants must close except for takeaway services, and schools will close for two weeks for an extended half-term holiday.

And the Scottish government ordered all pubs and restaurants in central Scotland to close until October 25 in what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called a "short, sharp action" to halt the spread of the virus.