First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford is expected to announce on Monday whether Wales will be entering a ‘fire-breaker’ lockdown.
Described elsewhere as a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown, the First Minister said on Friday that the Welsh Government is considering in detail the possibility of a two or three-week lockdown, saying that this would be a ‘short, sharp shock’ to the virus.
Mr Drakeford has warned that the NHS in Wales risks being overwhelmed, adding that critical care units in hospitals are currently full.
He said that other measures were also on the table, but that a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown may slow the virus enough to get the country ‘through to Christmas’.
What would a ‘fire-breaker’ lockdown involve?
It’s not completely clear what a ‘fire-breaker’ or ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown would look like if implemented in Wales. The First Minister refused to speculate on the potential details on Friday, saying that work would be continuing over the weekend to consider different aspects before a decision was made.
A ‘fire-breaker’ lockdown would most likely involve people being told to stay at home, like in the national lockdown earlier this year, and most businesses being temporarily closed.
During his press conference on Friday lunchtime, Mr Drakeford was asked about whether schools would be closed by such a lockdown. While he did not guarantee that they would stay open, Mr Drakeford indicated that the government would do everything it could to keep schools open.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic changed in Wales?
Coronavirus cases have been rising rapidly in Wales in recent weeks. According to the First Minister, there are now cases of the virus in every part of the country.
The number of Coronavirus-related patients in the Welsh NHS has risen by 49% in a week and the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to grow.
Currently, 17 areas in Wales are under local lockdown measures. The First Minister has said that the localised restrictions were “making a positive difference” but said that further measures were needed to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed.
Despite warning about the need for new measures to be taken, Mr Drakeford said that everybody’s efforts so far had meant that the virus pandemic is currently less serious than in other nations of the UK.