Posted: Fri 30th Oct 2020

Updated: Fri 30th Oct

End of ‘local lockdowns’ as Welsh Government looks to introduce ‘clear’ national measures when firebreak ends for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Oct 30th, 2020

Local lockdown restrictions across Wales will not continue when the current two week firebreak period ends next month.

The measures, which have been in place in Wrexham for just under a month, restrict travel to within county boroughs, towns or cities and also prevent people from mixing with other households.

Over recent months they have been seen as a way to “contain” the virus in an area and deal with localised issues.

However parts of Wales such as Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, which have been under the restrictions for several weeks, have recently seen a sharp rise in cases.

At today’s Welsh Government press conference First Minister Mark Drakeford said that while the local lockdowns have played their part, they “didn’t work well enough to withstand the onslaught that we have seen from this virus.”

Instead the Welsh Government will move to a range of national measures when the firebreak ends on November 9.

The end of the two week period will also see the promised re-opening of shops, bars, restaurants and gyms; along with all students returning to school and churches and places of worship resuming services.

However first minister urged people not to treat the new rules as a “game” and look for loopholes when the new guidance is released on Monday.

Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve been working hard this week to create this new set of measures that we can all live with this winter – and that will give us maximum protection, together with as much freedom as is feasible.

“This is a difficult balancing because this is a virus which thrives on close contact between people, especially contact indoors.

“What this means is that at the heart of the new system, the system we will have in place after the month of November, it will have to be at its heart, the way in which every one of us go about our daily lives.

“If we are to keep coronavirus in check in Wales, without resorting to the disruptive lockdowns and firebreaks, then we all need to adapt to the virus in the same way that businesses have adapted over the last six months.

“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. Please don’t make your first question what can and what can’t you do.

“Instead, we should all be asking ourselves what should, and what shouldn’t I be doing to keep myself and my family safe.

“The answer to that question is that we should all do everything we can to reduce the contacts we have with other people at home, in work, or when we go out.”

“Government rules and regulations are there to help, but the real strength we have is in the choices we make and the actions we take together.”

But the first minister was challenged on the local lockdown measures and why they were not being retained if had been a success.

Mr Drakeford said that whilst they had played their part, the “local measures are no longer sufficient” and that the Welsh Government would be shifting towards simpler national measures for the public.

He continued: “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 this 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 that would otherwise have been the case. Those efforts have absolutely been worthwhile.

“But the efforts have met a virus that has risen at a pace and on a scale that means that local measures are no longer sufficient to be able to deal with it. It’s why we’ve got this two week fire break.”

“We’ve used the time to review the approach that we were taking earlier in the autumn and while that approach has undoubtedly helped, it has come with some complexity with different rules in different parts of Wales, introduced at different times.

“For the sake of clarity and simplicity our decision is that the other side of the firebreak period we will have a set of national rules that will apply in all parts of Wales.

“I hope that that will help people to be clear about what they are being asked to do. We have had evidence of people wanting to do the right thing, but not always being certain what the right thing is because the rules have been more difficult to follow than we would have liked.

“We’re going to clarify, are we going to have a national scheme, as from the ninth of November.”

You can view the full briefing from earlier today on the below video:

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