Wales braces itself for 17-day 'circuit breaker' lockdown

17 October 2020, 17:53 | Updated: 18 October 2020, 09:49

Wales could go into a two-week lockdown from next week
Wales could go into a two-week lockdown from next week. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

Wales will introduce a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown 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.

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 12.01am 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.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government was looking "very carefully" at introducing a circuit-breaker
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government was looking "very carefully" at introducing a circuit-breaker. Picture: PA

"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.

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

"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.

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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."

Mr Pockett said 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."

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."

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.

"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."

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