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UK News Wales could go into lockdown from FRIDAY

22:25  17 october  2020
22:25  17 october  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford snaps at criticism of 'firebreak'

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A two-week circuit-breaker lockdown is to be introduced in Wales from next week, according to a leaked letter.

The lockdown will begin at 6pm on October 23 and last until November 9, and will see all but essential retail outlets close.

The details of the plan were contained in a letter from a regional director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport to its members in Wales, which was posted on Twitter.

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  Maskless Welsh revellers pile on streets for last time before shutdown At 6pm, Wales goes into a harsh 'firebreak' lockdown until November 9, with people told not to leave home except for limited purposes such as exercise and all non-essential shops forced to shut down. However, even existing restrictions were ignored this evening as revellers, many without face coverings, embraced and sang 90s classic Don't Look Back In Anger outside a Gregg's bakery in the city centre.It comes as it emerged that Welsh supermarkets have been ordered to only sell 'essential goods' to customers during the country's 17-day lockdown.

In the letter, dated October 16, John Pockett writes: 'The Welsh Government will announce on Monday a 'circuit break' lockdown to begin at 1800 on Friday 23 October and continue in force until 0001 on Monday 9 November.

'We have met with officials this morning, but as this is a very fast moving situation with decisions still to be made by ministers, much of the detail has not yet been agreed by the Government.

'Nevertheless I wanted to let you know what we know so far.'

Mr Pockett said the lockdown would 'take us back to the situation in March' when pubs, cafes, restaurants and hairdressers were closed.

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'It covers the half-term break (Friday 23 October - Monday 2 November) but some schools will reopen on 2 November,' he wrote.

Oleg Kalashnikov wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: John Pockett (pictured) said the lockdown letter was genuine, but said he was 'surmising' what would happen © Provided by Daily Mail John Pockett (pictured) said the lockdown letter was genuine, but said he was 'surmising' what would happen

'Ministers have not yet determined the details on this; it seems that primary schools will reopen, but a decision on secondary schools (or at least some or part of individual schools) will be made over the weekend.'

He said public transport would be for 'essential journeys only' and the Welsh Government was yet to decide what level of services would run during the lockdown.

The letter added: 'I appreciate that this information is very limited and I am sure that you will have questions, but that, at the moment, this is very much as we know.

'I assure you that we will keep members fully informed as we receive more details from the Government.'

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Video: Boris Johnson says the government are ready to implement 'Draconian' measures if needed (Wales Online)

Mr Pockett told PA Media the letter was genuine, but said he was 'surmising' what would happen.

'The letter is genuine and it contains what I assume or surmised would be the position. It was me advising my bus operator members to be prepared for something and this is what it may well be,' he said.

'It could be more; it could be anything. I think other associations have communicated with their members in the same way.'

a sign on the side of a road: Local lockdowns are in force in 17 areas of Wales affecting more than 2.3 million people but had not slowed the spread of the virus enough, said First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday © Provided by Daily Mail Local lockdowns are in force in 17 areas of Wales affecting more than 2.3 million people but had not slowed the spread of the virus enough, said First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday map © Provided by Daily Mail

Asked about the specific details of the lockdown, Mr Pockett said: 'I've not seen the detail either - that's me surmising - but that's what my common sense tells me.

'I understand what the Government wants to do is cause as little disruption to schools as possible, so you start it as soon as the schools finish for half-term.'

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On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government was looking 'very carefully' at introducing a circuit-breaker lockdown with a decision due to be announced on Monday.

Local lockdowns are in force in 17 areas of Wales affecting more than 2.3 million people but had not slowed the spread of the virus enough, he said.

A travel ban preventing people from areas of the UK with high levels of coronavirus from entering Wales came into force on Friday.

'The measures we have put in place at both a local and a national level, with help from the public, have kept the spread of the virus under check,' a Welsh Government spokesman said.

'However, there is a growing consensus that we now need to introduce a different set of measures and actions to respond to the virus as it is spreading across Wales more quickly through the autumn and winter.

'We are actively considering advice from Sage and our TAC Group. A "fire break" set of measures to control Covid-19, similar to that described in the Sage papers, is under consideration in Wales.

Mark Drakeford wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford (above) said the Welsh Government was looking 'very carefully' at introducing a circuit-breaker lockdown with a decision due to be announced on Monday © Provided by Daily Mail On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford (above) said the Welsh Government was looking 'very carefully' at introducing a circuit-breaker lockdown with a decision due to be announced on Monday graphical user interface, text, application: The Welsh Government yesterday issued a tweet (above) setting out the new restrictions but there have so far been no reports of drivers being stopped © Provided by Daily Mail The Welsh Government yesterday issued a tweet (above) setting out the new restrictions but there have so far been no reports of drivers being stopped

'As the First Minister set out in his press conference on Friday, we have discussed this advice with stakeholders and partners. But no decisions have been made.'

'We won't break the law': Burnham would accept Tier 3 if imposed on Greater Manchester

  'We won't break the law': Burnham would accept Tier 3 if imposed on Greater Manchester Andy Burnham says he will keep to the law and "accept" Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions for Greater Manchester if the government imposes them. The region's mayor told Sky News it was ministers' "prerogative" to announce the measures, if negotiations over the next few hours end in stalemate.

Conservative shadow health minister Andrew RT Davies said: 'The First Minister knew about this yesterday, and while we all suspected this was going to happen, there was no point in delaying it being announced.

'Instead, he chose to bypass the Welsh Parliament and members not of his party, and first brief outside organisations about it.

'It shows incredible disrespect to the institution of the Welsh Parliament, the voters, and it demonstrates the downright and breath-taking arrogance we have come to expect from the First Minister and the Labour Party.

'Worse, they have actually misled the public and Members of the Welsh Parliament by saying yesterday that "no decisions had yet been taken", when clearly they had.

'Labour's contempt for democracy and the Welsh electorate is staggering, and I have written to the Llywydd to express or grave concerns over the First Minister's actions.'

What Welsh 'travel ban'? Traffic flows freely between England and Wales on first day of 'unenforcable' ban on travellers from English coronavirus hotspots like Liverpool

Traffic is still flowing freely across the border from England to Wales on the first day of the supposed travel ban from high-Covid areas.

The ban, which came into force at 6pm on Friday, makes it an offence to travel to Wales from coronavirus hotspots in the UK.

It was described as 'unenforceable' by the Police Federation earlier this week and there is still no sign of any high-visibility patrols or roadblocks to deter travel from Merseyside - despite Liverpool being in Tier 3.

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Those who ignore the restrictions will be breaking the law and could face fixed penalty notices starting at £50 - but there have so far been no reports of drivers being stopped.

It comes after the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, who ordered the ban, insisted the biggest threat to the UK came from 'so-called unionist' at a Welsh Labour Party event attended by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In the angry tirade, he accused Boris Johnson of being 'neglectful' and said he 'will not put in the tie, the effort and the hard work' needed to keep the UK as one country.

a colorful kite sitting on top of a sign: One large sign that read 'please stay home, save lives and businesses' was seen positioned today by the roadside outside a pub in Flint in north Wales © Provided by Daily Mail One large sign that read 'please stay home, save lives and businesses' was seen positioned today by the roadside outside a pub in Flint in north Wales

The Welsh Government yesterday issued a tweet which read: 'From 6pm today, if you live in an area of the UK with high levels of coronavirus, you won't be able to travel to Wales without a reasonable excuse.

'This includes tier 2 and 3 areas in England, the central belt of Scotland, and all of Northern Ireland. Help us to #KeepWalesSafe.'

But Welsh traffic cameras today showed the main arteries across the border to Merseyside carrying free-flowing traffic.

As the restrictions came into force, police in Wales issued a warning insisting they would 'robustly' enforce the travel ban imposed by the Welsh Labour Government.

On behalf of the four Welsh police forces, temporary assistant chief constable Nigel Harrison of North Wales police said : 'As we move into a critical stage of the virus progression, policing across Wales will continue to support the Welsh Government to help limit the spread of the virus.'

He added: 'We are now at a time where we will robustly enforce the regulations where there are blatant breaches.

'We will not allow the selfish minority to risk the health of the vast majority who have sacrificed so much over the last few months. We intend to focus our activity on areas and behaviours that pose the greatest risk to our communities.

Wales 'set for circuit-breaker lockdown in the next few days'

  Wales 'set for circuit-breaker lockdown in the next few days' Wales could be just days away from a full 'circuit-breaker' lockdown in an effort to stop the growing spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The government is speaking with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies about what further action it can take as the crisis enters the crucial winter months.It comes after the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced he intends to bar entry from English regions with high levels of Covid-19 if Boris Johnson fails to impose UK-wide travel restrictions.

'We will be proactive in targeting those that are not sticking to the gathering rules, whether that be indoors or outdoors. People should not be travelling between the areas facing local restrictions without defined reasonable excuses.

'This will include those that travel from other parts of the UK with high transmission rates.'

After his ban was imposed, Mr Drakeford warned today that Westminster has become a source of 'huge frustration' to them because 'we are a Government that believes in the UK and wants the UK to succeed'.

'We are a fiercely devolutionist party in Wales believing decisions affecting only people in Wales should be made by people in Wales,' he said.

'At the same time, we think Wales benefits from the great insurance policy that is the UK.'

Mr Drakeford said the Joint Ministerial Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, and first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, had not met once under Boris Johnson's leadership.

'The way the UK has operated during the crisis has been a wing and a prayer,' he said. 'The Prime Minister calls us together randomly, at short notice with very little preparation and then nothing happens for week after week after week.

'I have called for all the way through a regular, reliable rhythm of meetings between the four component parts of the UK. The underpinning of the UK has been so neglected by this Government.'

Mr Drakeford was speaking during a Welsh Labour Party event with former prime minister Gordon Brown.

Earlier this week the ban was derided as impractical and anti-English by critics.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said 'policing in Wales is already over-stretched due to the pandemic' and the new measures would add 'yet another level of complexity to policing'.

Mark Bleasdale, Police Federation of England and Wales' Welsh Lead, said: 'On the face of it, this is unenforceable because of the difficulty of identifying where people are coming from and where they are going to.

'There will also be plenty of individuals travelling legitimately from areas which are not high risk, and this will only add to the other difficulties officers face when policing the existing regulations.'

There are currently 18 exemptions for crossing the border, published on the Welsh Government's website.

It confirmed that people from areas with high levels of coronavirus will still be allowed to enter Wales for work, education and medical care.

Wales's ban will also grant exemptions for people seeking food or medical supplies, items for essential home maintenance, moving home, and attending weddings or funerals.

Obtaining or depositing money with a business, accessing care for children or vulnerable adults, carrying out voluntary or charity work, and training as an elite athlete will also allow a person to cross into the country.

The Welsh Government and North Wales Police have been contacted for comment.

Read more

Wales 'set for circuit-breaker lockdown in the next few days' .
Wales could be just days away from a full 'circuit-breaker' lockdown in an effort to stop the growing spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The government is speaking with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies about what further action it can take as the crisis enters the crucial winter months.It comes after the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced he intends to bar entry from English regions with high levels of Covid-19 if Boris Johnson fails to impose UK-wide travel restrictions.

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