Coronavirus: Lockdown in Wales to be extended next week

Media caption,

Local Government Minister Julie James confirms the lockdown rules will not be lifted next week

The lockdown in Wales will be extended into the next week, the first minister has confirmed.

Mark Drakeford said Wales must "not throw away gains" made against coronavirus "by abandoning our efforts just as they begin to bear fruit".

He expects other parts of the UK to do the same.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak declined to say whether the UK government will follow the Welsh Government in extending the coronavirus lockdown.

The stay-at-home regulations, which have been implemented separately in each of the UK's four nations, were due to end next week.

Under them, people can only leave home for:

  • shopping for groceries or essentials
  • any medical need
  • travelling to and from work, if it is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home
  • one form of exercise per day

In Wales, people can face fines of between £60 and £120 for breaching the rules.

Mr Drakeford made the comments at a virtual Welsh Assembly meeting, held by video-conference. It is not clear when the lockdown will be extended to.

Image caption,
Mark Drakeford: "We will not throw away the gains we have made"

Addressing AMs, he said: "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."

Mr Drakeford said he had discussed the matter with ministers in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the UK government. "There is more work to do in reviewing the regulations," the first minister said."The precise nature of what will follow the current regime will be agreed over the coming days."

Speaking an hour earlier, at the Welsh Government's daily coronavirus press conference, Local Government Minister Julie James urged people to follow the social distancing guidelines and stay at home over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Ms James said: "Working together we can slow the spread of this virus. Stay at home and save lives."

The actions which people take this weekend, and the coming weeks ahead, "will shape Wales for years to come", she added.

Mr Drakeford said he believes the stay-at-home rules will also be continuing elsewhere in the UK into the next week.

He was asked by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price if he thinks the UK government should announce the lockdown extension in England before the Easter weekend.

"I believe they will be continuing elsewhere in the United Kingdom," he said of the lockdown measures.

"And if we can get that single message in a concerted united way out across the United Kingdom that of course would give it additional force and strength."

Asked about the Welsh Government's announcement at the UK government's daily coronavirus press conference, Mr Sunak said he did not want to "speculate" and he would rather focus on the message" of "staying at home to save lives".

He said there was an emergency COBRA meeting tomorrow involving the devolved administrations and they would "talk about the approach to the review" of the lockdown period.

Mr Sunak said the UK government is committed to a review of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus "based on the evidence and the data" provided.

The chancellor added that data from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies would "only be available next week".