Lockdown in lockstep: Why Welsh Government stays close to UK coronavirus policy

When announcements about a further period of coronavirus lockdown are made by the Welsh, Scottish and UK governments, it's a near certainty that they will all extend it to the same date.

It's also extremely likely that they will opt for the maximum period of three weeks permitted by law, as ministers in Northern Ireland have already announced.

It's a law that separately empowers ministers in each home nation to make their own rules.

After the First Minister told the Senedd that there was no possibility of lockdown ending after the first three weeks, he bristled at the suggestion that he should have waited for an announcement in Westminster.

Sometimes Wales has gone its own way, with less draconian maximum fines, greater flexibility over the number of mourners at funerals and legal penalties for employers who don't do all they reasonably can to enforce social distancing in the workplace.

Wales is the only part of the UK where there is a blanket ban on leaving your home for exercise more than once a day.

The Conservatives claim it's a restriction that's caused real hardship.

A community police officer talking to people in a park during the Easter weekend. Credit: Wales News Service

At a UK level, Labour is calling for a roadmap for leaving lockdown, setting out which businesses could reopen first and what rules would remain for different groups for people.

So far, Mark Drakeford has only offered one hypothetical example, that libraries could reopen with restrictions similar to those imposed in supermarkets.

On the crucial question of whether Wales could leave lockdown on a different date to England, he has said that he is "not attracted" to the idea because of enforcement problems, not least that some people simply wouldn't know that the rules were different in Wales when they get so much of their news from English media.

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows fly in formation over The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day in 2015. Credit: PA

If the three week extension of lockdown is confirmed, it would last until Thursday 7 May.

The next day is a public holiday to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

It would be a hugely symbolic moment to restore some of our lost liberty, if the medical advice allows it -or the dire economic forecasts require it.

However, politicians would still have to warn against any repeat of the celebrating crowds and hugging of strangers seen on 8 May 1945.

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