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Wales introducing coronavirus “firebreak” from Friday

Written by: Emma Lunn
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to impose a similar lockdown in England.

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said the short, sharp lockdown would help the country regain control of coronavirus.

The fire-break will start at 6pm on Friday 23 October and end on Monday 9 November. It will apply to everyone living in Wales and will replace the local restrictions which are in force in some parts of the country.

The Welsh Government will provide a package of almost £300m to support businesses, which will complement wage-support schemes available from the UK government.

The Welsh government said that cases of coronavirus have been rising sharply in Wales. While the national and local measures put in place across Wales have helped to keep the spread of the virus in check, there is a growing consensus that additional action is now needed.

The R number in Wales is currently between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning continued exponential growth in the number of cases. The seven-day rolling incidence rate for Wales stands at more than 130 cases per 100,000 population.

The move comes as the Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called on Boris Johnson for help in “breaking the impasse” over stricter Covid-19 curbs in the region.

Several northern local leaders, including Burnham, have rejected a move to England’s tier three alert level without better financial support.

Johnson introduced the three tier system a week ago. But he has been accused of ignoring scientific advice after it emerged that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) pushed for a circuit breaker lockdown in England in September.

Northern Ireland is currently under a four-week circuit breaker lockdown which began on Friday.

Schools in Northern Ireland are closed for two weeks, which includes the half-term holiday. Hospitality businesses are limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks.

Social bubbles are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households, with overnight stays in a private home banned unless in a bubble.

The Scottish government announced the week before last that pubs in the country would be barred from selling alcohol indoors for 16 days.

Health is a devolved matter, which means Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own policies in relation to public health matters.

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