// Welsh First Minister says he will not extend Wales’ firebreak lockdown beyond Nov 9
// Wales had entered a 17-day lockdown on Oct 23, and it will not run alongside the English lockdown starting Nov 5
// The end of the lockdown in Wales will mean non-essential retailers will be able to reopen
The Welsh Government will not extend Wales’s firebreak lockdown next week, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford said his decision to impose a “short and sharp” 17-day lockdown in Wales means there is no need to extend the period past November 9 to run alongside England’s month-long lockdown from Thursday.
The Welsh Labour leader will outline the details of new national measures for Wales at the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 press briefing this afternoon.
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Non-essential retailers, gyms, schools and places of worship are all expected to reopen, while people will be asked to work from home wherever possible, minimise contact with others and avoid travel.
This morning, Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales he had “struck a bargain” with the public to come out of lockdown on November 9 and would not extend it.
“In theory, of course, we could. But we struck a bargain with the people of Wales back on October 23 that this will be a short but very sharp lockdown period of 17 days,” he said.
“I don’t intend to step back from that bargain now just because just across our border a different government has decided to do something different in another part of the United Kingdom.”
He said the Welsh Government was “anxious” about people in England living under lockdown being tempted to cross the border into Wales once restrictions are eased.
Ministers are set to work through the issues of cross-border travel between the countries, including by rail, with officials from Westminster, while consideration will be given to people in English border communities potentially using nearby pubs located in Wales.
“It’s important that Wales doesn’t become an escape for people trying to get round the new tighter restrictions being introduced in England,” Drakeford said.
However, the Welsh First Minister refused to rule out another lockdown this year, saying only that the fire-break was “designed to avoid that”.
“By doing everything we’re doing, and provided we behave in the right way after the lockdown, we are confident that we can get through to Christmas without needing to go through this again,” he said.
Drakeford told BBC Breakfast there would be a “basic set of national rules” in Wales after the lockdown ends, with the public expected to ask themselves what contribution they can make to keep themselves and others safe.
“If we play it as a game in which your job is to think about what the rule is and see how far you can stretch it, then I’m afraid the weeks ahead will be very difficult indeed,” he said.
However, he said “large parts of life will be able to resume”, including for retail, hospitality, leisure and schools.
The firebreak was introduced on October 23 in an attempt to help bring virus transmissions under control, with ministers saying it could take around two weeks for the measures to begin to have an effect on daily case numbers.
Wales had imposed 17 local lockdowns across the country before it entered into the fire-break but Drakeford said last week that it would adopt a “simpler” set of national measures after it expired.
with PA Wires