Lockdown in Wales to continue for another three weeks but some rules relaxed – First Minister
The lockdown in Wales will continue for another three weeks, but some libraries, recycling centres and garden centres will be allowed to re-open and rules on exercise will be relaxed.
However, there was also an announcement that there would be a clampdown on those abusing the rules to travel elsewhere for exercise.
He also described a “fits and starts” experience of working with the UK Government, and called for more consistent access to ministers.
“The advice we have received from the Chief Medical Officer is that it is too soon to lift these restrictions,” the First Minister Mark Drakeford said.
“If we allowed the virus to spiral up out of control” we would see an additional 7,200 deaths rather than the expected 800, he said. “We must not lose the progress we have made.
“We will watch the level in the community like a hawk. If there is any sign that it is increasing we will re-impose some of the restrictions,” he said in response to one question.
“If it has unintended consequences we will intervene again.”
But he said that there were “small and modest” changes that could be made on Monday in order to “move in step” with the rest of the United Kingdom without allowing the virus to spread faster.
- The risk of infection is reduced outdoors so people could go outside to exercise more than once a day. However, it should not involve travel away from home
- Garden centres could re-open as long as 2m social distancing rule is applied
- Local authorities could begin planning how safely to reopen libraries and recycling centres
He said his announcement was not an attempt to place a restraint on Boris Johnson in England. It will be for the Prime Minister to decide the steps taken in England, he said.
It is unclear as of yet to what extent Mark Drakeford’s statement will tally with Boris Johnson’s announcement at 7pm on Sunday.
But Mark Drakeford said that after talking to Boris Johnson he did not expect to see anything but the most modest changes across the UK.
“The Prime Minister wants to announce very careful changes,” he said.
He said that after the announcement on Sunday he will “set out how that will work in Wales” and that the Welsh Government would be “part of that conversation”.
But he also said working with the UK Government has been a “fits and starts experience”. “We tend to get it and then it doesn’t happen for a while. It would be better if there was a regular and reliable pattern.”
Responding to a question about reopening schools he said that he was comfortable with schools in Wales being closed while those in England open.
“I am very comfortable that we will maintain a four nations approach but we will maintain some differences.,” he said. “There are already differences because education is devolved across the United Kingdom.”
Responding to a question about people travelling to Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend, he said he was very clear that people should not travel.
“Wales remains in lockdown,” he said. “Nothing has changed over the weekend. A journey to the beach or a mountain is not essential travel. The police will send people home. Don’t do it.”
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