Fire-break lockdown is about 'saving lives, not saving Christmas', FM warns

  • Watch the press conference in full

The First Minister has said Wales' 17-day lockdown is about about "saving lives, not saving Christmas" as he warned that the virus will not "magic away" but instead "reset the clock."

He said he hoped measures being put in place in other parts of the UK to reduce the spread of coronavirus would succeed.

"Then we will all be able to meet with family, with friends, have some sort of Christmas in which there is still something for us all to celebrate," Mr Drakeford said.

In Friday's Welsh Government press conference, he said he would be meeting with local authorities, police forces and other organisations to discuss what the rules would be when the 'fire-break' ends.

Wales enters another national lockdown from 6pm on Friday. Welsh Government have stated that those measures will end on November 9, to be replaced with a different set of national regulations.

Mark Drakeford confirmed ministers have already come up with an initial set of ideas that will now be discussed over the following days and the next few weeks will be spent working "through some complicated decisions".

The First Minister said he would not rush making an announcement on what the regime after November 9 would look like before the ideas "have been properly tested" and discussed.

He did outline that the topics they would be considering are the reopening of businesses in a safe way, what travel restrictions should be in place and "most importantly of all we will be looking at how households operate".

The fire-break will begin at 6pm on Friday 16 October.

The Welsh Government made the decision to impose a short national lockdown because of a rise in coronavirus cases across the country.

Under the measures, people will be asked to stay at home and to leave only for a limited number of reasons, including exercise, buying essential supplies, or to seek or provide care.

It is hoped that these stricter rules will drive the transmission rate down and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.

In Friday's press conference Mr Drakeford said latest figures bring the number of coronavirus deaths reported by Public Health Wales to 45 this week.

A day before the lockdown was due to come into effect, the First Minister also said that supermarkets would not be allowed to sell non-essential items.

This sparked criticism from Andrew RT Davies, the Conservative shadow health minister, while Sue Davies, from consumer group Which?, said the announcement would cause "confusion" - particularly among the vulnerable.

Mr Drakeford told the press conference on Friday: "When it comes to supermarkets it is a simple matter of fair play, we are requiring many small business on the high street to close right across Wales...and we are looking to minimise the amount of time people spend out their homes."

He added that this was not the time for people to be browsing shops for non-essential goods.

When asked how essential and non-essential items would be defined, Mr Drakeford emphasised that people should not be thinking about "how to get around" the rules but should be thinking about whether their journey and purchase is indeed essential.

Mr Drakeford also said that areas of supermarkets selling non-essential items should be closed.