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Wales’ ‘fire break’ will end despite England lockdown, Mark Drakeford says

31 Oct 2020 4 minute read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) in yesterday’s speech broadcast on BBC One. Mark Drakeford (right), picture by the Welsh Government.

Wales’ ‘fire break’ lockdown will end on 9 November despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing his own lockdown in England, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

He also suggested that some kind of restrictions would stay in place to prevent free travel from England into Wales without a reasonable excuse, such as work.

Boris Johnson has been forced to act in England after scientists on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told him Covid-19 was spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios and could kill 85,000 people this winter.

“Any announcement by 10 Downing Street will relate to England,” Mark Drakeford said.

“The Welsh firebreak will end on Monday, November 9. Our cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss any potential border issues for Wales in light of any announcement by No 10.”

Earlier Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told Times Radio that the current fire break should mean no further lockdowns are needed before the end of the year.

However, he would not “rule out” further action before January.


‘More cases’

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new month-long lockdown across England. The new measures could be introduced on Wednesday and last until 2 December, meaning that Wales’ and England’s lockdowns only overlap for half a week.

Everything except essential shops and education settings could be closed.

There will be no mixing of people inside homes, except for childcare and other forms of support. Outbound international travel will also be banned, except for work.

Speaking in a personal capacity on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Prof Calum Semple, a member of Sage, said the country was in a second wave of the virus. “Unlike the first wave, where we had a national lockdown which protected huge swathes of society, this outbreak is now running riot across all age groups,” he said.

He said there were “many more cases, particularly in younger females between the ages of 20 and 40”, with three to four times as many women in that age group going to hospital as men, because they were being exposed to the virus in hospitality, retail and some educational settings”.

The possible new restrictions have been badly received by some Tory MPs however with some briefing that they were prepared to vote against any new lockdown.

Conservative backbenchers are demanding any second lockdown be put to a vote in Parliament, with ‘at least 30 prepared to rebel.

One anonymous Tory MP told MailOnline: “It’s just awful, and it’s going to get worse and I feel the Government is going to lose control of this crisis.

“We’ll keep fighting but if they do another lockdown we’re buggered. We’ll get financial support but we’re bankrupting ourselves and as soon as the money goes we’re plunged into long-term poverty.

“You can look at a certain number of Tories voting against this, at least 30, maybe more, and there seems to be quite angry reaction from what I’ve heard from colleagues.”

Welsh Conservative Health Spokesman Andrew RT Davies said that he would continue to oppose the lockdown in Wales whatever happened in England.

“A number of people on my timeline screaming about England this morning, which is strange given I’m an elected Welsh politician,” he said.

“I stand by my view that the two-week lockdown implemented across Wales was disproportionate and unnecessary for certain parts of our country.

“Whilst we have been against the principle of a national lockdown in Wales, the critique over the past seven days has been associated to Labour’s staggering incompetence in other areas.

“The barmy ban, dodgy use of figures and abandonment of businesses. Our job is to scrutinise.”


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