Wales enters firebreak lockdown as UK’s Covid cases drop for second day in a row

23 October 2020, 23:42 | Updated: 24 October 2020, 00:17

A two-week national lockdown has begun in Wales
A two-week national lockdown has begun in Wales. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Wales has entered a 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown as the UK's coronavirus cases drop for the second day in a row.

People in the country are being asked to stay at home for over two weeks and only leave the house for shopping and essential travel.

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants have been closed and people are banned from socialising outside their own household until 9 November.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford warned that hundreds more people would die from coronavirus across Wales "unless we act now to bring this deadly disease under control".

Read more: Wales brings 'fire-breaker' lockdown into force to curb Covid-19

It signals a departure from England and Scotland, who continue to opt for a tiered system of regional restrictions to combat the virus.

The UK Government warned earlier this week that a full national lockdown would risk severe economic damage as the UK heads into Winter.

Speaking ahead of lockdown on Friday, the Welsh First Minister the public's compliance with the newest set of restrictions, which came into force at 6pm, would give hope that the country could "enjoy a version" of Christmas in two months time.

Meanwhile data from the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.4.

Read more: Welsh supermarkets told to sell ‘essential’ items only as 'firebreak' starts at 6pm

Last week, the R number was between 1.3 and 1.5 - and scientists signalled that although the number of new cases in England has doubled in the past fortnight, the rate of growth may be slowing.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Friday estimates there was an average of 35,200 new cases per day of Covid-19 in the community in England between 10 and 16 October.

Since Monday, almost 5,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Wales and hospitalisations continue to climb to levels not seen since early May.

In the rest of the UK, a further 19,769 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the past day - a slight drop from the day before.

Read more: Nottingham braced for Tier 3 imminently after 'dramatic' Covid patient rise

Meanwhile several areas in England, the latest being Nottingham and Warrington, are set to be placed into Tier 3 restrictions as hospitals report struggling to cope with the number of Covid-19 patients.

Yesterday, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust moved to postpone some non-urgent surgery and appointments until 6 November “following a dramatic increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 in our hospital”.