How likely is a national lockdown in Wales?

Lockdown Wales nationally
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that the government would try to avoid "blanket rules" for everyone.

Almost two and a half million people in Wales are currently living under local lockdown in an attempt by the Welsh Government to control transmission of Covid-19 cases.

This means that a large percentage of the population is now living under tighter restrictions that include only leaving or entering an area if you have a reasonable excuse, and limiting contact with people you do not live with.

With the majority of the country under this lockdown, how likely is it that the Welsh Government could impose a nationwide lockdown like we saw in March?

A short national lockdown for Wales is currently 'under consideration' by the Welsh Government.

It says it is "actively looking" at scientists' advice the UK Government allegedly rejected for an immediate two or three week national lockdown.

The Welsh Government said on Tuesday that there is a "growing consensus" a different set of measures and actions are needed to respond to the rising rates of coronavirus during winter.

A short national lockdown is 'under consideration' by the Welsh Government. Credit: PA Images

Public Health Wales had said that Wrexham, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Conwy were areas of concern on Tuesday, with health minister Vaughan Gething confirming the areas in north Wales would be placed under restrictions later that same day.

The city of Bangor is the latest place to have tougher restrictions enforced after a "significant cluster of cases" were identified with outbreaks appearing to be "closely associated with young people and students".

Restrictions in Wrexham, Swansea, Cardiff, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Neath Port Talbot, the Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen have also been introduced alongside Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Llanelli.

The Welsh Government has always maintained that people should work from home unless they are unable to do so, whilst making it mandatory for people to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops.

It has always been the position that the Welsh Government would try to avoid restrictions nationally, with First Minister Mark Drakeford saying that they would try to avoid "blanket rules" for everyone.

The reason for this stance, according to Welsh Government ministers, is because of the varying levels of coronavirus across Wales.

But, that position has changed slightly in recent days with the health minister Vaughan Gething saying local measures in place across parts of the country may not be enough to suppress the increasing rate of virus transmissions into the winter months.

Mr Gething told the Welsh Government's Covid-19 press briefing: "The measures that we have put in place at local and national level to date have helped us to keep the spread of the virus in check.

"However, there is growing concern that these will not be enough to help see us through the winter because the virus is spreading so quickly."

Health minister Vaughan Gething has said that the government does not want to implement national measures. Credit: PA

Latest figures show the rate of incidents of Covid-19 in the past seven days in Wales was now more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.

And an Office for National Statistics infection survey suggests that one person in every 500 has the virus in Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has previously said that the government was sticking to its messaging from earlier in the pandemic.

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Credit: Mark Drakeford

"I want to avoid blanket measures as much as we can," he said during a press conference on 18 September.

"There have been a lot of visitors to holiday destinations and there is no evidence that has led to the transmission of the virus in those areas.

"We hope it will be a small number of national measures supplemented by small local measures."

Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference on September 16, Mr Gething asked the public to play their part in helping to prevent national measures being implemented.

"If people change the way they behave we can keep ourselves out of a national lockdown," he said.

"I think there is a very clear message about the level of contact. If we see behaviour that sees an increase in cases we will review it.

"I am very clear that we will introduce more local and potential national measures to keep Wales safe."

The health minister also issued a warning, stating the country had 'weeks to act' to prevent another national lockdown similar to March.

Dr Giri Shankar, of Public Health Wales, said that there is a real concern that extended restrictions would have to be implemented if the cases numbers continue to rise.

“We are concerned that much of the good work conducted over the past few months is at risk of going to waste," he said.

"If the situation continues to worsen, we may find ourselves at the same levels of infection that we experienced earlier this year in March and April, and with that comes the potential for more extended restrictions to be imposed nationally.

"Coronavirus has not gone away. It remains the responsibility of everyone to help prevent the spread of this virus to protect older and vulnerable family members and friends."