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.”