Coronavirus: Wales ministers hope to avoid winter lockdown

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Wales has its own lockdown rules in place

Plans for dealing with coronavirus in the autumn and winter say ministers may tighten Wales-wide restrictions if there is a widespread rise in cases.

But the Welsh Government believes it can avoid the total lockdown seen in the spring.

The Coronavirus Control Plan for Wales aims to tackle clusters of infections through contract tracing.

It sets out how local or national restrictions could be introduced if cases begin to rise.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething told a Welsh Government press conference the plan brings together "lessons learnt" from outbreaks in Anglesey and Merthyr Tydfil, and "sets out how to plan for any potential future waves"

"This is particularly important as we get ready for autumn and winter," he said.

"The science shows the virus spreads more quickly in the colder, darker months so we need to be prepared."

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Non-essential retail in Wales was reopened in June

Under the plan, cases and clusters would be dealt with through contact tracing and isolation.

A cluster or complicated case that suggests a risk of wider transmission will be dealt with as an incident, where more local testing may be carried out.

If the virus spreads more widely, this would be declared as an outbreak and further measures may be taken such as closing schools or preventing events.

If that is not successful, measures could be put in place across a "locality or region", reflecting what is known about infections.

They could include:

  • closing businesses and venues where transmission is occurring
  • restricting the movement of people, such as within a local area
  • preventing or limiting the number of people that can meet indoors or outdoors
  • limiting how and when people can use public transport, including limiting the number of people in a vehicle or carriage
  • requiring the use of face coverings in a wider range of places

"For example, if cases are linked to places of worship or to pubs, those sectors might be closed down temporarily," the document said.

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Lockdown saw strict travel restrictions across Wales

If there is a more widespread rise, the Welsh Government may "introduce measures across the whole of Wales".

But with more being learned about the virus and the conditions it could spread, and seeing what is happening in other countries, the Welsh Government believes it should be able to "avoid the extensive set of lockdown measures that were necessary in March".

"In future we can expect adjustments to the existing regulations to reflect the latest national situation. This might involve tightening some restrictions that have been eased, or introducing new measures such as the recent mandating of face coverings on public transport," the plan added.

Welsh Conservative health spokesman Andrew RT Davies said a further blanket lockdown "will again have a damaging effect on our economy, on our young people's education, and - critically - on the health of our nation".

"All efforts must be channelled now at avoiding another national lockdown, and planning for the winter pressures NHS Wales faces annually while dealing with the backlog, and securing an economic recovery from the first lockdown."