Wales expected to follow Scotland in announcing lockdown extension
Wales’ First Minister is expected to announce that Wales will diverge from England’s lockdown easing plan in a press conference at 12.30pm today.
The Welsh Government has briefed that Mark Drakeford will announce a “cautious” approach after two cabinet meetings yesterday.
UK Government Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a gradual easing of the restrictions in a speech at 7pm on Sunday.
In England, people will be able to leave the house repeatedly in a single day, as long as they maintain a two-metre distance from those outside their household.
The UK Government has also briefed a potential return for open-air markets, cafes with outdoor spaces, and more access to high streets and cemeteries.
However, following a phone call between the First Minister and the Prime Minister, it has been agreed that the two nations could leave the lockdown at different speeds.
But it will not be entirely clear until after the two leaders have spoken what the differences amount to.
The Welsh Government has already announced that schools will not reopen at the beginning of June, unlike in England where that is expected to happen.
As the bank holiday weekend begins Mark Drakeford is expected to emphasise in particular that people should not leave their local area.
The announcement will be shown live on BBC One Wales at 12:30pm today.
‘Not the time’
The First Minister’s announcement is expected after reports of annoyance in both Cardiff and Edinburgh that the UK Government’s lockdown easing plan was briefed to the press before any agreement with the Welsh and Scottish Governments.
The Scottish Government has already announced that they will not be amending their lockdown regulations, putting them on a different track to England.
“If you have any constituent parts of the UK moving in a direction before other parts are ready, then that really undermines the whole ethos and intention of a four nations approach,” a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said.
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru have called on both the UK and Welsh Governments to hold back from easing the lockdown.
In a joint statement leader, Adam Price and Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said it was too soon to make changes.
“Now is clearly not the time to make any significant changes, but perhaps even more importantly, now is not the time to change the message,” they said.
“All parties and all administrations have responsibly reiterated the message to ‘stay home to save lives’.
“This is a clear and simple request, for a time when we are grappling with complex issues. Even a slight change in that message risks confusion with potentially disastrous consequences.
“We therefore urge you not only to retain the policy, but ensure there is no change in the perception that for now people must continue to stay home to save lives. We hope, above all, that you will be able to come to an agreement based on a parity of respect for both nations and the lives of each one of their citizens.”
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Discordance with England over re-opening schools is a pretty straightforward matter which should cause few complications. But a radically different policy from England’s in some other aspects of ‘lock-down’ might well create real difficulties here. If, for instance, – and the UK government seems to be hinting at this – Westminster loosens the rules on ‘stay home’, you can bet that whatever the Welsh government decides, loads of English folk will head to Wales’s tourist hot-spots for days out, or to spend a few days in their second homes or caravans. They’ll do it in innocence, because as far as… Read more »
A mass influx will certainly take place if the restrictions that Bojo announces are pretty extensive, John. But fortunately, they’re likely to be minimal at first, so long journeys to the Welsh border will still be against English rules. The invasion may well take place, though, but at a later date when Johnson announces an easing of longer-distance travel restrictions. But the second-homers and tourists may have missed the good weather by then. Gobeithio.
You’re probably right. The signs certainly seem to suggest that at the start Bunter’s likely to resist any really significant opening up, despite the recent exuberant clamour from the newspapers his fan base tends to read.
And I do see some logic to the limited lifting of travel restriction, at least in some pf the more infection-free areas, as France’s transport minister says their government is considering. Though something similar would put parts of north-east Wales within legal reach of parts of Merseyside and parts of south-east Wales within legal reach of Bristol.
Your last paragraph is chilling, but by no means implausible. Wales might just be caught by an English backlash when Scotland departs the Union.
Daniel Kawczynski, the hard right Tory MP for Shrewsbury, very recently tweeted: “Do we really need the massive additional expense of this Welsh Assembly? Just another layer of red tape and massive extra cost to taxpayers. I am looking forward to a day when we return to one parliament and one policy for the whole of United Kingdom.” OK, he’s at the fruitcake end of the Tory party – Polish in heritage, he’s said to be sympathetic to Poland’s Orbanesque Law and Justice Party government – and he subsequently deleted the tweet. But it’s clear what he thinks, and it’s… Read more »
Prompts a not entirely rhetorical question – Do we need Daniel Lawczynski or any of his kind ? Is there a nice safe space for him back in Central/Eastern Europe where he can mix with his own ethnicity particularly those with his peculiar attitudes. ?
Well, he’s been the choice of the voters of Shrewsbury & Atcham since he took the seat from Labour in 2005, so I think we may be stuck with him for now!
You’re quite right about that. There is a lot of dislike of devolution amongst many right wing tories,and among some doctrinaire lefties as well who see it as a bourgeois distraction.
What is worrying is a recent poll which saw support for abolishing the Assembly at 30%
Recent polling seems to suggest that Gwynfor and Gwenllian Average Welsh Voter are thus far content, not only with devolution but also with an incremental extension of the powers devolved to the Welsh government. But ‘content’ is by no means the same as ‘enthusiastic’, and I don’t sense much enthusiasm, and even less excitement. I agree entirely with you that most right-wing Tory politicians remain as opposed to devolution as they ever were; the Conservative party opposed the devolution proposals to the end, the only Tory politicians who accepted the (narrow!) verdict of the 1997 referendum are now on the… Read more »
John Ellis, I agree with the main thrust of your post, but I think you do need to look again at your phrasology with regard to, “Scotland has a vigorous national media which would promote Holyrood’s message, and there’s a pretty vast tract of thinly populated country between the populous areas of England and the central belt of Scotland where most Scots live.” If the recent (and continuing) Press reaction and questioning of the First Minister of Scotland are anything to go by, then they are routinely engaged in ‘Nicola Sturgeon baiting’ whilst at the same time cheerleading and attempting… Read more »
Having, I confess, spent just one day of my life in Scotland – and that was fifty years ago! – I don’t generally offer a view on what’s happening in Scotland because I’ve no adequate or first-hand knowledge of how things are there. I was just passing on Vaughan Roderick’s ‘take’ on the differences between there and here, presuming that he’s better up on all that than I am. He’s a commentator whom I respect, and his points struck me as credible. But I agree with you entirely about Sturgeon’s remarkably deft performance in her role, both on this matter… Read more »
two ideas to consolidate the current measures of lockdown in Wales…….only speak Welsh to anyone not known to you in reply to a question………immediately close the branches of KFC and so on who are causing potentially dangerous traffic jams. Why were they allowed to open in the first place? Barbeques galore being lit on canal towpaths and ‘nature’ areas here in W.Yorks yesterday, it is not looking good, not at all
A bit of a distraction, for sure, but I routinely employ your first suggestion in response to unwanted ‘cold callers’ and likely scammers who ring me up. It works a dream, and the really satisfying bit is when they hang up on me, rather than vice versa!
Cymraeg — even more intimidating than “I know where you live”…
Dunno about intimidating: all you need is to keep saying ‘Pwy sy’n siarad? Beth ydych chi eisiau? ‘Dw i ddim yn deall! Nid un gair … !’
Works without fail …
I know, John. I was merely making a poor attempt at a joke. I do the Welsh-only act on chuggers in the street. Result: a gobsmacked chugger.
Likewise works without fail.
Works with Roma chikd beggars in Bulgaria and Romania as well …
Not sure I can support the weaponising of the language, but I strongly appreciate the intent!
Early on in the pandemic there was an in-depth interview with a consultant on the Coronavirus ICU ward at Royal Gwent. He reckoned he could see the pandemic gradually moving down the M4 from Heathrow and London. Another consultant friend of my partner’s believed that Abergavenny was two to three weeks behind other hospitals and was coping better because “we saw it heading our way”. These guys may be wrong but I lean towards their pragmatic on-the-ground knowledge so Wales needs to be very careful how it exits lockdown. We saw as it began that ABUHB was hammered by being… Read more »
I heard that interview too – a different perspective from that of the politicians and, indeed, from the public health specialists.
And worth taking seriously because the consultants are dealing with the realities on the ground and discussing between themselves their experiences and impressions.