Wales will enter a two-week lockdown on Friday, with people told to stay at home and schools closing along with bars, restaurants and non-food shops. First minister Mark Drakeford said the measure, which he described as a “fire-break”, was necessary because the virus was spreading throughout Wales.
“We all want to see an end to this pandemic and our lives returned to us. Unfortunately, we do not yet have a vaccine, which will allow us to do that. So, this is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much-longer – and damaging – national lockdown,” he said.
Mr Drakeford promised to use the lockdown “very purposefully” to recruit more contact tracers and catch up on a backlog of contacts yet to be traced.
He said local lockdowns, under which two-thirds of the Welsh population have been living, had not proven to be adequate, but he promised that the lockdown would end on November 9th.
“This fire-break is the shortest we can make it, but that means it will have to be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”
The Welsh move came as talks between the British government and political leaders in Manchester failed to reach an agreement about putting the city into Tier 3, the highest level of local lockdown. Local leaders want more financial support for businesses and workers hit by the lockdown before they agree to moving into the highest tier.
Britain reported a further 18,804 coronavirus cases on Monday, and 80 further deaths, as the number of patients on ventilators passed 500 for the first time since the height of the pandemic in the spring.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that he was worried about the rise in cases among people over 60, especially in Liverpool, Lancashire and Greater Manchester.