Wales could end lockdown earlier than rest of the UK, First Minister says
Wales could come out of the lockdown earlier than the rest of the UK, according to First Minister Mark Drakeford.
In an interview with the Guardian Mark Drakeford said he had the power to start enacting his own plan to ease restrictions if he thinks it is in the best interest of Wales.
He said the Coronavirus Act 2020 allows the devolved nations to go their own way and it may now be time to consider putting that into action.
He also said that the UK Government needed to do more to keep in contact with the leaders of the devolved nations and called on No 10 to invite them to a Cobra meeting before the weekend.
Eight deaths were recorded in Wales today, and the country is thought to have hit the ‘peak’ of deaths around mid-April.
“We have the power to do it, definitely. I’d rather we did it together,” Mark Drakeford said.
“If we can’t get to that point and we think there are things that are right to do for Wales then we will go ahead and do that but my ambition is that we do things still together across the United Kingdom.
“The Coronavirus Act does respect devolution. It puts the solution in our own hands and we have already done things differently in a range of different matters where that’s been right for us.”
Drakeford said that he had been in regular talks with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and both countries have now released their own roadmaps to easing lockdown.
‘Above and beyond’
Today, Health Minister Vaughan Gething confirmed that financial support of £60,000 will be provided to an eligible beneficiary of frontline staff working in the NHS and Social Care, should they die in service as a result of Covid-19.
The scheme will see eligible beneficiaries receive a one-off sum of £60,000 and will apply particularly to those working in frontline roles and locations where personal care is provided to individuals who may have contracted Covid-19.
The scheme is non-contributory and there are no additional costs to employers. The payment will be made in addition to any existing benefits already earned through existing pension scheme membership.
The scheme would be time-limited, providing cover for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and will retrospectively apply from the 25th March 2020.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Our frontline workers in the NHS and social care sector are going above and beyond to deliver care and services for patients and to the most vulnerable in our communities across Wales. Their bravery on the frontline of this pandemic is something the whole nation is thankful and proud of.
“The introduction of this scheme I hope will provide peace of mind that their family and loved ones will be supported should the worst happen.”
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