Wales to enter 17-day 'fire break' lockdown, with public urged to stay at home

Amy Jones
Mark Drakeford will announce new measures today - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)/Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Mark Drakeford will announce new measures today - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)/Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Wales will enter a 17-day “fire break” lockdown on Friday, after the First Minister Mark Drakeford set out "sharp and deep" new measures.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Drakeford announced the closure of retail, hospitality, tourism venues and places of worship. He confirmed that everyone in Wales will be “required to stay at home” apart from critical workers.

Mr Drakeford said the country is facing a very "serious situation" due to coronavirus and warned that "critical care units are already full".

"There are no easy choices in front of us as the virus spreads in every part of Wales," he said.

The First Minister met with the Welsh Cabinet this morning to come to a “final decision” on the country’s coronavirus measures, after considering advice from experts.

It comes after a leaked letter from a regional director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport to its members in Wales suggested that restrictions will come into effect at 6pm on Friday October 23, and will last until 12.01 am on Monday November 9.

Last week, details of the lockdown were outlined in a letter to transport operators from John Pockett, director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport Cymru.

There is speculation that England could soon follow suit by bringing in a “circuit breaker” ahead of the half term school holidays.

However, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove yesterday downplayed the idea, insisting the spread of the virus did not warrant short-term blanket restrictions "at the moment".

“It would seem an error to try to impose on every part of the country the same level of restriction when we know that the disease is spreading more intensively and quicker in some parts of the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Wales looks set to push ahead with a ban on travellers from English coronavirus hotspots.

Mr Drakeford has said he is prepared to put police on the border to stop English visitors, with fines expected to be handed out at “police discretion".

The First Minister said border restrictions were needed as the Prime Minister had ignored his plea to impose UK-wide legal limits on travelling from Tier 2 and 3 areas.