Wales could go into post-Christmas lockdown, warns first minister
Written by Gavin on 11th December 2020
Wales could go into another lockdown after Christmas if coronavirus cases do not fall, according to its first minister.
Mark Drakeford said the situation was “very serious” with new COVID-19 infections rising faster than modelling predicted despite a 17-day firebreak in October which successfully brought down case numbers.
He said his government will reintroduce a four-tier traffic light system of national restrictions in response to the worsening crisis.
Mr Drakeford said at the moment the nation was in the third tier and would move into the fourth after Christmas unless the level of coronavirus cases started to drop.
He said it would be “inevitable” that greater restrictions resembling a lockdown would be imposed if Wales moved to the highest tier.
But he denied the possible tougher measures would in effect be another firebreak as they would be reviewed every three weeks as opposed to ending after a fixed period of time.
He said: “The revised plan sets out four alert levels. Today in Wales, we are at alert level three. The traffic light is red. The level of risk is very high.
“If the strengthened measures of last week and the extra action of this week, together with the efforts each and every one of us need to make… do not succeed in turning the tide of the virus – then it is inevitable that we will have to move to alert level four immediately after Christmas.”
The weekly case rate for Wales has risen to 340 per 100,000 in the most recent figures.
Wales has the highest coronavirus infection rate of any part of the UK. England has a rate of 153 per 100,000; Scotland had 100 per 100,000 and Northern Ireland has 159 per 100,000.
There are now 10 local authorities with rates higher than 400 cases per 100,000 people.
Mr Drakeford said this week the number of COVID-related patients in Welsh hospitals passed 1,900 for the first time and was continuing to rise.
“If this increase continues at this rate, we could see 2,500 people with coronavirus in hospital by Christmas Day,” he said.
Speaking at the Welsh government coronavirus briefing, Mr Drakeford also said all outdoor Christmas attractions in the nation are being ordered to close.
He said Christmas markets would not be included because they are a form of non-essential retail, and added that it would be “winter wonderland type events”.