Wales to extend coronavirus lockdown measures

8 April 2020, 15:08

Members of the British Army learn how to apply PPE to support the Welsh Ambulance Service
Members of the British Army learn how to apply PPE to support the Welsh Ambulance Service. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Wales is set to keep its coronavirus lockdown measures in place past the Easter weekend, the country's First Minister confirmed.

Julie James AM warned the people of Wales that their actions during the Easter break would shape the nation "for years to come" long after the coronavirus pandemic.

Her comments come before a formal announcement set to be made by First Minister Mark Drakeford later on Wednesday.

Officials in the rest of the UK are yet to confirm the continuation of the measures.

Ms James told the Welsh Government's daily Covid-19 briefing in Cardiff the measures encouraging people to stay at home were successfully limiting the spread of the virus.

However, she added the public must be ready for further deaths across the country and for illnesses to persist.

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She said: "It's almost two and a half weeks since we asked people to stay at home, to work from home whenever they can, and to stop making unnecessary journeys.

"These measures will stay in place next week. These are extraordinary times, asking people to completely change the way they live, work and socialise is not something we do lightly."

Ms James added: "Our actions and decisions over the Easter bank holiday weekend and in the coming weeks and months will shape Wales for years to come."

Read more: Wild goats take over Welsh town as coronavirus lockdown leaves streets empty

Read more: UK will stay in lockdown until scientists say otherwise, says health minister

First Minister Mark Drakeford said stay-at-home measures in Wales will not end next week, with agreement on the nature of the lockdown extension to be announced "in the coming days".

He told the Welsh Assembly: "The three weeks of stay-at-home restrictions provided for in the legislation, and which we have all faced, are due to end next week.

"I must be plain with all members, these restrictions will not end then. We will not throw away the gains we have made and the lives we have saved by abandoning our efforts just as they begin to bear fruit."

The Welsh minister said all four police forces in Wales have recorded incidents of people flouting lockdown measures.

People coming to visit holiday homes in areas covered by North Wales Police and Dyfed-Powys Police had "caused some local tension," she added.

Ms James said Gwent Police raised concerns about busy roads and motorcyclists congregating in some parts of their area, while South Wales Police officers had been called to incidents including a children's birthday party, a football match, and a group hiking along the Taff Trail.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: "We have asked people to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus, and there are signs that this is having an impact.

"The efforts we are making are not yet over, measures will stay in place next week.

"Together, we are making a difference, protecting our NHS and saving lives."