Mark Drakeford ‘very seriously’ planning for circuit-breaker lockdown in Wales

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First Minister Mark Drakeford says a circuit-breaker lockdown would be the “most effective way” to hold back coronavirus and confirmed the Welsh Government is “planning very seriously” for a short nationwide lockdown.

He also said he is baffled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to refuse to impose travel restrictions on high risk areas.

Speaking on SkyNews, Mr Drakeford confirmed that the Welsh Government is drawing up plans for a nationwide circuit-breaker period but no confirmation will be made until later this week. Around the same time, health minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast that a decision on a potential circuit-breaker lockdown will be made in Wales within the next few days.

Mr Gething said: “It is a potential way forward we are actively considering and… we are going to need to make some choices about whether we are going to do that or not.

“Many people are pointing to the school half-term as a potential way to introduce a break if we are going to do so. The next few days will be very important but we are getting specific advice tailored to Wales to understand what that might look like.”

Mr Drakeford said “a circuit-breaker period would be the most effective way of turning back the tide of coronavirus”

He said: “If a circuit breaker is the right way to do it then that is what we will do and we are very actively talking about and preparing for that should it be necessary.”

“I don’t think we are absolutely at that point but the detailed work is going on so if figures continue during this week to go in the wrong direction, we would be in a position to do what our colleagues in Northern Ireland look as though they are already having to do this week.”

He added that the Welsh Government is planning “very seriously” so if they need to do it, they are able to do it “very quickly”: “We will look at the figures through the rest of this week.”

Mr Drakeford repeated his plea for a four-nation Cobra meeting to discuss the potential use of a circuit-breaker to slow infection rates and said: “There is a lot of detailed work to be done, a Cobra meeting for us to share information and look at it together would I think be a sensible next move.”

“Certainly here in Wales we are doing the detailed planning we would need to do in case that is the course of action we adopt.”

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Yesterday it was revealed that Mr Drakeford wrote a letter to Boris Johnson asking him to consider a circuit-breaker lockdown. Health Minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast that Mr Drakeford is yet to receive a response from Mr Johnson.

He also confirmed they are yet to receive a response from a second letter issued to Boris Johnson in relation to restriction travel on coronavirus hotspots in England.

In Wales, people living in local authorities under local lockdowns are not permitted to leave the area.

Mr Drakeford said he was “baffled” as to why the Prime Minister has not imposed the same restrictions on other high-risk areas in England.

He said: “I am baffled why the prime minister continues to refuse this idea. I want people in high volume areas to be prevented from going into low volume areas anywhere in the United Kingdom. This is not a border issue for me.

“People in Wales living in Cardiff, where I am for example, are not allowed to travel to the south west of Wales to Pembrokeshire because in Pembrokeshire there is very little coronavirus in circulation. I simply want the Prime Minister to do that for England.

“It is a simple, straightforward, practical action that prevents the flow of the virus out of areas where there is a great deal of it, into areas where there is very little of it.”



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