Current Welsh Covid regulations to remain in place as First Minister says 'firebreak was successful'

Current coronavirus regulations in Wales will remain in place for at least another two weeks, the First Minister has announced.

Existing rules, including a ban on meeting indoors with people outside of your extended household, were introduced to replace firebreak restrictions, which ended on 9 November.

Mark Drakeford said evidence has revealed that the 17-day lockdown was successful in bringing down coronavirus rates, but warned that a number of people are continuing to flout the rules.

"Our police forces have reported, in the post-firebreak period, they have responded to more than 1,000 Covid-related incidents," he said.

Regarding Christmas, he said a "common plan" for rules is still being worked out between the UK Government and other devolved governments.

Mark Drakeford said Wales has seen the number of coronavirus cases fall continuously since the firebreak ended. Credit: PA Images

The decision to impose the lockdown, which started on October 23, was criticised by UK Government ministers before Boris Johnson announced England's own month-long lockdown, which is due to end on December 2.

It comes as Northern Ireland announced another firebreak-style lockdown will come into force a week after easing more restrictions following its first circuit-breaker.

New strict restrictions are also being introduced in large parts of Scotland, including Glasgow, to control rising cases of coronavirus.

Ahead of the regulations review, Mr Drakeford said Wales has seen the number of coronavirus cases fall continuously since the firebreak ended.

"We've had 10 consecutive days of numbers coming down in Wales, positivity rates coming down in Wales, we're beginning to see that feed into a slowdown in the number of people being admitted to hospital with coronavirus," he told BBC Breakfast.

"So we think that firebreak period has succeeded. The question is whether it has succeeded enough, and whether people in Wales are now behaving in ways that allow us to capitalise on the ground we've gained, rather than seeing it frittered away."

Since the end of the firebreak, the overall number of coronavirus cases in Wales has fallen by more than a fifth, according to Public Health Wales figures.

There were more than 206 cases per 100,000 people in Wales between 2-8 November. That number dropped by 20 per cent between 10-16 November, when there were just over 164 cases per 100,000 people.

Christmas stalls and decorations have been put up in Cardiff. Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford said discussions with UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the other first ministers of the devolved administrations was planned for next week on a UK-wide approach to Christmas restrictions.

He added that “there are no sticking points" and "no disagreements” regarding discussions, and that the four chief medical officers have been asked to “look together at the detailed work that is being done” on whether restrictions can be eased over the festive period, and provide their views.

It comes as the health minister warned that allowing more people to mix at Christmas would mean an increase in coronavirus cases is "likely".

Mr Gething told ITV Wales: "We have not agreed on whether there will be restrictions, or what form they might be, or the length of them and we have not agree about any measures for afterwards."

He added a warning that whatever the restrictions are, "we all need to accept that if we are going to have relaxation and more mixing, we are likely to see a further increase in cases".

However he did admit that Welsh Government are facing a difficult decision on how to ensure people follow any rules that may be in place.

"We face a really difficult challenge," he said.

"If we say there are to be no easing of restrictions over Christmas...we know a significant amount of people will ignore all of the rules and all of the guidance.

"They will make up their own rules."

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