Wales national lockdown in new year 'likely', says minister

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Image caption,
Wales is under lockdown until 9 November

A second Wales-wide lockdown in the new year is looking increasingly likely, according to a cabinet minister.

Deputy Economy and Transport Minister, Lee Waters, said the current firebreak was unlikely to be the last in Wales - with England "expected" to follow.

Previously the Welsh Government had only gone as far as saying it "could not rule out" another lockdown.

The current national 17-day lockdown is due to be reviewed when it comes to an end on 9 November.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales' Sunday Supplement Mr Waters said previous projections show pandemics have "more than one peak".

He added: "This is not the last lockdown we are likely to see. The projections we published in a worst case scenario show it's likely we are going to need another firebreak in January or February."

He added that Wales is now witnessing a second peak, with critical care admissions increasing by 57% this week alone, and that was why the Welsh Government has introduced this "short, sharp" intervention.

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Mr Waters said the UK was "too late" with the first lockdown

Mr Waters said he expected England to follow Wales with a firebreak "before too long" while the Welsh Government was trying to be "consistent and cautious" in trying to flatten the curve of cases.

"We are doing our best to flatten the curve. We can't stop the curve, we can't stop the virus spreading. Our best hope is to wait for a vaccine to help us bring it under control."

Economists have warned the lockdown may cost the economy more than £500m and the Conservatives have accused ministers of having "no exit plan".

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Mixed views on the firebreak in Wales' first local lockdown area

Plaid Cymru said it was vital the test and trace system was improved during this firebreak to break the cycle of "devastating" national lockdowns.

"It is concerning to hear talk of plans for future firebreaks at the start of this reset," said shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth.

"If the Welsh Government puts effective measures in place over the next fortnight, a new strategy for the months ahead, it should be aiming to avoid having to return to these tight nationwide restrictions."

Meanwhile Mr Waters said the Welsh Government will sit down with supermarket companies on Monday to review how the first weekend of restrictions over the sale of 'non-essential' items.

Pressure has mounted on ministers to reverse the decision with more than 55,000 people signing the largest-ever Senedd petition to allow the sale of items, such as clothes and kitchen items, during lockdown.

The Welsh Conservatives accused the Labour-led government of "incompetence and mixed messaging".

Mr Waters said: "We're not reviewing the requirements for supermarkets not to sell non-essential. We are going to review how it's working in practice, because clearly there are some bumps."

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Image caption,
Demonstrators in Llandudno want lockdown restrictions lifted

More than a hundred protesters gathered in Llandudno, Conwy, on Sunday, to demonstrate against the current lockdown.

The crowd marched along the seaside town's promenade demanding restrictions are lifted.