First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed that the government is considering proposals to put in place a national “fire break” lockdown next week to attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus across Wales.
Speaking at today’s government press briefing, Mr Drakeford said no final decision had been taken but gave details of the measures being considered.
He said that the “fire break” would see people confined to their homes and businesses shutting for two or three weeks to give the virus a “short, sharp shock”.
Talks on the move will continue over the weekend and if as expected ministers back the measures it could be announced on Monday and come into force at the end of the week.
“This would be a short, sharp shock to the virus, which could turn back the clock, slowing down its spread and buy us more time – and vital capacity in the NHS, Mr Drakeford said.
“A “fire-break” would also mean a short, sharp shock to all our lives – it would mean shutting down businesses and the economy.
“We would all have to stay at home to once again save lives. But this time it would be for weeks not months.
“We’re considering a two or three-week “fire-break”. The shorter the period, the sharper the measures will have to be.
“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level. Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Earlier today Dr David Bailey, British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales council chair, backed the government’s fire-brake proposals.
“Cases are climbing fast across Wales with the latest figures showing that the number of Covid-related patients in the Welsh NHS has risen by 49% in a week, it’s clear that the current restrictions are not strong enough to suppress the spread of the virus, Dr Bailey said.
“We welcome the move to introduce a travel ban from Covid hotspots, but at this critical point doctors in Wales support, and are calling for as a matter of urgency, a circuit-breaker lockdown for a number of weeks.
“It is imperative that robust action is taken now without delay to protect the citizens of Wales and the Welsh NHS.”
Dr Bailey added: “A second peak alongside the added pressure that the winter season will inevitably bring and the huge backlog of patients already in the system is quite frankly an overwhelming prospect. Our members are deeply concerned about the ability of the service to cope.”