'Path to Christmas' for Welsh people, Mark Drakeford tells LBC

8 November 2020, 14:07 | Updated: 8 November 2020, 14:11

By Joe Cook

The First Minister of Wales has told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday there is now a “path through to Christmas”, as the country’s firebreak lockdown comes to an end on Monday.

Mark Drakeford told Tom the Welsh government “think we have got a path through to Christmas”, but stressed “it will depend crucially on how people behave after Monday”.

His comments come as Wales prepares to come out of a 17-day firebreak lockdown on Monday, while England continues in its month-long lockdown which ends at the start of December.

Mr Drakeford said his message for the Welsh people was: “After Monday don’t ask yourself what can I do?

“Don’t try to find a way of stretching the rules and trying to get the most out of them you can. Ask yourself what should I do? What should I do to protect myself and to protect others.

“If we can do that, we will build on the success of the last 17 days.”

While the First Minister stressed the Welsh government believe the reproduction R rate in Wales will be below one, they will only know in “another two weeks”.

“The R number as we went into Wales’ firebreak was between 1.2 to 1.3, that sort of area.

“We hope of course as we come out of the lockdown, when we get the figure, which will not be for a week or so, it will be down below one in Wales.”

He added: The indications in Wales are people in Wales have been sticking to the firebreak. Travel is back to where it was at the beginning of May. We will continue to assess all those measures.”

The final week of the country's lockdown saw more Covid-19 patients in Welsh hospitals than there were during the April peak of the first wave.

Mr Drakeford has conceded that it is “inevitable” cases will rise in some areas of the country, as Wales comes out of the firebreak lockdown.

It comes after the Welsh Government faced calls to extend the lockdown in the south Wales valleys, where the number of coronavirus cases has risen.

A new set of national rules will follow the 17-day lockdown in Wales, which Mr Drakeford says will be easier to follow as he looks to avoid a "reliance" on entirely local measures.

But the First Minister refused to be drawn on whether there would be another lockdown in Wales, telling Tom: “I am not going to just speculate in that way. We think what we have done will see us on a path through to Christmas.”

“This is a public health emergency and if that emergency in Wales requires us to take further action then we certainly will do that and we won’t shy away from it. Does that automatically mean another lockdown? No it doesn’t.

“There are other things that we may be able to do. There may be other possibilities that we don’t have at the moment that we will have, not in months time, but in weeks time.”

“We will always monitor the position in Wales and if we have to take further action we can.”

“But this binary choice between ‘Will you stay as you are?’, ‘Will you go into another lockdown?’, I think that oversimplifies the complexity of the circumstances and the decisions that we face every day.”