First Minister Mark Drakeford has defended the announcement by the Welsh Government on Wednesday that the coronavirus lockdown would be extended in Wales and rejected allegations the move was made simply to “get in ahead of Westminster.”
The lockdown restrictions were due to end next week, but the First Minister confirmed “these restrictions will not end then. We will not throw away the gains we have made and the lives we can save by abandoning our efforts just as they begin to bear fruit.”
The UK government has said a decision on the approach in England would not come until “the end of next week” although an extension of the lockdown looks a certainty.
Drakeford said in a press briefing on Friday: “I wanted to be honest with people here in Wales and did not want them going into Easter believing they were on the final stretch and come next week the restrictions would be all over.”
In the briefing he also indicated the government are prepared to diverge from Westminster with regard to relaxing social distancing measures in future: “We will do the right thing for Wales at the time that it is right for Wales and we won’t be doing that by looking over our shoulders at what others are doing.”
His comments came as Public Health Wales confirmed that 502 new cases have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wales in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,591. 29 further deaths have been reported taking the total number of deaths to 315.