Coronavirus: Wales won’t return to local lockdowns after 17-day ‘fire break’ ends

Wales will not return to a series of localised coronavirus restrictions once its current 17-day “fire break” lockdown ends, the country’s first minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said a “simpler set of national restrictions” would instead replace the current measures rather than the local lockdowns that were previously imposed during the autumn.

The current fire break period in Wales – which has seen controversy over what supermarkets are allowed to sell under the rules – is due to last until 9 November.

Until that date, people in Wales are being urged to stay at home – except for very limited purposes – and bars, restaurants and most shops are closed.

At a Welsh government briefing in Cardiff on Friday, Mr Drakeford explained what would replace the fire break rules once the 17-day period ends.

“We will put in place a simpler set of national rules that are easier for everybody to understand, to help keep us safe and keep the virus under control,” he said.

“We’ve been working hard to create this new set of measures that we can all live with this winter.

“If the new measures are to work, we all have to act in ways that live up to the public health emergency we are facing together.

“Please do not treat the new rules as though they were a game in which the challenge is always to stretch them to the limit.”

Mr Drakeford added that he will provide the “full details” of the new measures on Monday.

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Asked why Wales would not return to the local lockdown system, the first minister said: “It’s not that they didn’t work.

“It’s that they didn’t work well enough to withstand the onslaught that we have seen from the virus over the last six weeks.

“They undoubtedly have helped, and all the efforts that people have made in those areas have kept the virus at a lower level in Wales than would otherwise have been the case.”

Earlier on Friday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stood firmly behind the UK government’s localised approach to restrictions for England.

He described a short national lockdown – as pursued by Wales and also Northern Ireland – as “something of an enigma” and a “blunt tool” in dealing with rising coronavirus cases.

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