Wales has now entered a period of ‘firebreak lockdown’ across the country, with tougher restrictions introduced to help regain control of coronavirus in the region.
The fortnight-long action, which began on Friday October 23 at 6pm and will last until 12:01am on Monday November 9 2020, was announced by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford last week.
Mr Drakeford emphasised the need for a firebreak lockdown in Wales to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed and to save lives.
So what are the rules of the firebreak lockdown in Wales and could we see similar restrictions introduced in England.
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What are the firebreak rules in Wales?
In Wales, there are five key rules associated with the current firebreak lockdown:
Despite the fact that secondary schools have been asked to remain closed to pupils from years nine and upwards for the duration of the firebreak lockdown, primary schools and childcare settings can remain open.
For further detail on the firebreak lockdown in Wales, visit the Welsh government’s firebreak FAQ page.
Will England have a firebreak lockdown like Wales?
Although there have been calls for a similar firebreak lockdown in England, with Labour leader Keir Starmer advocating for a two- or three-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown nationally to regain control of the virus, there have been no plans confirmed for such action yet.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously stated that he hopes to avoid another national lockdown for the sake of the economy, which is why he has introduced the three tier local lockdown system, to try and curb the infection rate in areas where cases have risen dramatically.
However, despite the PM saying he wants to ‘avoid the misery’ of another national lockdown in the UK, he has also said the he ‘rules nothing out’ in the fight against Covid-19, leaving the possibility of a firebreak lockdown in England – or similar – open.
It has been reported that Whitehall officials are now planning a fourth tier of restrictions to build on the current three-tier lockdown system as a way of curbing rising infection rates but avoiding a Welsh-style firebreak lockdown for the whole nation.
The fourth tier of coronavirus restrictions would involve stricter rules, such as requiring restaurants and non-essential shops to close.
Sources have said a decision could be made by mid-November as to whether adding a fourth tier of restrictions to the current lockdown system will be necessary.