The Welsh government announced an over two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown, effective from Friday at 6pm. All non-essential retail, leisure, and tourism businesses will shut and people will be required to stay at home.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, stated that he needs to act now in order to tackle rising Covid infections and protect the National Health Service (NHS).

Unless we act the NHS will not be able to look after the increasing number of people who are falling seriously ill, even with the extra 5,000 beds that we have available for this winter.

Drakeford said that a two-week lockdown is the shortest possible duration for the measures to have the required impact. The first minister claimed the lockdown is fixed and would finish on November 9.

The measures require that everyone remain at home when possible. All non-essential retail, leisure, and tourism businesses will shut and all bars, restaurants, and pubs will be forced to close with the exception of takeaway and delivery services.

The first minister said he was “acutely aware” of the challenges that the 17-day lockdown would create for businesses as he announced that small and medium-sized retail, leisure, and hospitality firms could access a one-off payment of as much as £5,000. “We have created an extra economic resilience fund of almost £300m,” he added.

The Welsh government had introduced a number of local lockdowns over the course of the last two weeks and a national lockdown had been expected. Drakeford had previously tweeted that they were considering a time-limited ‘fire-break’ to bring the virus back under control.

It was reported on Sunday that the infection rate across Wales was 130.9 per 100,000 people over the previous week. The most afflicted area is the nation’s capital, Cardiff, with 270.1 infections per 100,000, which is substantially below other parts of the UK. Manchester for example, which is currently subjected to very minor restrictions despite the government’s desire to impose a tier three lockdown, has an infection rate of 435.1 per 100,000. Manchester’s mayor has stood firm in opposing a tier three lockdown, claiming London needs to provide more financial support.

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