People in Wales urged to only make 'really necessary' journeys

22 September 2020, 15:56 | Updated: 22 September 2020, 20:33

The Welsh First Minister has urged people in Wales to only make journeys that are “really necessary” in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Mark Drakeford said "one of the central dilemmas" faced in Wales was the differing rates of Covid-19 across the country, with rates of the virus still falling in 10 local authority areas.

He said discussions would take place throughout Tuesday with local government, the health service, public health officials and the police about "additional measures that we might be able to take".

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In the televised address, Mr Drakeford said rising cases of coronavirus infections were being seen in different parts of Wales, with people being admitted to hospital with "serious illnesses because of this deadly virus".

The First Minister's comments came hours before four more areas of south Wales are set to enter a local lockdown.

Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent will all face added restrictions from 6pm on Tuesday, with nearby Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly having already had a lockdown imposed.

The restrictions mean people will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education, will only be able to meet outdoors, and will not be able to meet members of their extended household indoors or form an extended household for the time being.

It is also thought that pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales will have to close at 10pm from Thursday in line with measures introduced in England.

Off-licences and supermarkets will also be stopped from selling alcohol after 10pm.

Pubs must operate as table service only, the Welsh Government is expected to announce later.

"In the weeks and months ahead of us, there is a very real possibility that we could see the virus regain a foothold in our local communities, towns and cities," Mr Drakeford said.

"Now none of us wants to see that happen again. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year. We have all sacrificed so much.

"Families have lost loved ones. People have lost jobs and livelihoods. This is a highly infectious virus. We cannot let it take a hold of our lives again. We have come too far to let that happen."

"And please think carefully about making journeys - only travel when you need to do so," Mr Drakeford said.

"The fewer people we meet, and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are."

He also said the Welsh Government's approach to lifting previous lockdown measures had been "at a different pace and in a different way to that across our border".

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament this meant Wales now starts "in a very different place".

"Many of the things the Prime Minister is talking about doing today, we have already done in Wales," he said.

People in Wales have been encouraged to work from home throughout the pandemic and that message will be "reinforced" today.

"Very early on, we put the two-metre distance in the workplace into our regulations - it's not been in guidance in Wales, it's been a legal obligation on employers," Mr Drakeford said.

"The Prime Minister is going to tighten the rule of six. Well, our rule of six has been tighter all along - you can only meet somebody from your extended household."