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Tighter Covid restrictions in Wales before Christmas considered

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media captionHealth Minister Vaughan Gething says tiered lockdown restrictions may be introduced in the run up to Christmas

Tighter Covid restrictions could be implemented in Wales in the run-up to Christmas to bring the country more in line with other parts of the UK.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government was hoping for a "common approach" from the four UK nations over the festive period.

It comes as details emerge of how rules could be relaxed at Christmas.

But Mr Gething dismissed as "kite flying" reports suggesting three households could meet for five days.

A Welsh Government spokesman said ministers are considering whether Wales should adopt some of the restrictions currently in place in Scotland and those planned for England after the lockdown there ends in December.

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Speaking at a press conference, Mr Gething said: "We need to get to the festive season.

"And that may mean that we'll look to potentially think about the measures that Scotland have introduced as well as England, where they have a tiered system that largely complements each other.

"So we'll be thinking over the next week about whether we do need to have common approaches, as far as possible, in terms of how we ask people to go about living their lives.

"And that may mean that there'll be some changes [to the rules in Wales]."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionCould Wales be facing tougher restrictions in the run-up to Christmas?

Mr Gething said a common set of measures "would really help with the message for the public and to get us to the point where we have more headroom for the festive season when we know there will be more mixing between different groups of people".

Following those comments, a Welsh Government spokesman said ministers were considering a single system, rather than the tiered approach used in England and Scotland.

Ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been in talks with their UK government counterparts about the rules for Christmas.

Reports say they have backed plans to allow some household mixing "for a small number of days".

The BBC reported that one option discussed in meetings over the weekend was allowing three households to meet up for up to five days.

But Mr Gething said they had discussed "the potential" for a limited period of time to have some relaxation in the current measures in place but had not agreed numbers.

Suggestions that three households could be allowed to meet over Christmas was welcomed by Paul Davies, leader of the Conservatives in the Senedd, who said it would be a "sensible approach".

It was "crucial" that there were common rules for Christmas across the four nations, he added.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionA single set of rules is expected to be agreed by the four UK governments

Covid rates rise among under-25s

Cases of coronavirus among under-25s in Wales have risen again.

Infection rates for younger people fell during and immediately after the recent firebreak lockdown.

However Mr Gething described the latest increase as "worrying".

"We know, from the pattern of the pandemic so far in Wales, that infections in younger people quickly work their way through the community and into older people," he said.

There have been incidents in recent weeks of parties having to be broken up by authorities, including one in Cardiff that saw 52 students fined.Concerns were also raised when shops and bars reopened after the 17-day lockdown on 9 November.

Ministers are worried about rising cases amongst young people spreading once again to older generations.

So with talks continuing about a four-nation approach to Christmas, Welsh Government is considering whether there are aspects of the pre-Christmas restrictions in the rest of the UK that they might usefully cherry-pick.

It is not inevitable that ministers will borrow any rules from England or Scotland - it depends what happens to case numbers.

But if they do import rules, it's safe to assume they'll be tougher than those currently in place here and they will be part of a single system across the whole of Wales.

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