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Wales may adopt tighter restrictions in ‘common approach’ with other UK nations

By PA News

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Wales could adopt tighter nationwide restrictions mirroring those included in England and Scotland’s tier systems in order to have common approach ahead of the Christmas period, the country’s health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething said the measures, which would result in “changes” for people in Wales for a “limited period of time”, would be considered as England comes to the end of its four-week lockdown.

Wales has only been under its current national set of restrictions for a fortnight since it left its own 17-day firebreak lockdown on November 9.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

But Mr Gething said ministers were considering “a more common approach to measures” with the rest of the UK amid a rise in new virus cases in parts of Wales and in order to facilitate travel plans between other UK nations.

On Monday he told the Welsh Government’s press briefing: “We need to get to the festive season, but that may mean 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 compliments the other.

“So we’ll be 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 there will be some changes.

“We’ll think about that as England comes to the end of their four-week lockdown to try and give us all the headroom we want to have the sort of Christmas we want to have together.”

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government had wanted a “consistent set of national measures” across Wales after the firebreak ended instead of the series of local lockdowns in place before it entered lockdown.

“I wouldn’t say that we can expect to have a patchwork approach within Wales but we’ll need to consider that and discuss that,” he said.

Imposing measures that are similar to elsewhere in the UK could provide the “headroom” needed for the festive period, he said.

Mr Gething said there was “good evidence” that the firebreak had been effective but the challenge was getting to Christmas and having a relaxation of rules.

The health minister also said that indoor mixing is the “area of greatest concern” for spreading the virus, and called for people to consider taking a “complete break” from seeing others before they travelled to stay with family and friends over Christmas.

A “worrying” rise in new cases in some parts of the country include a spike in people under the age of 25 over the last seven days, though Mr Gething said the “broad situation across Wales remains stable”.

Seven schools in the Cardigan area and Coleg Ceredigion’s Cardigan campus have all switched to remote learning for two weeks amid a spike in cases in the west Wales town.

Ceredigion County Council have asked the public to take extra precautionary measures and have blamed the rise in transmissions to a cluster of social events at public houses in the town, potentially affecting hundreds of contacts.

Meanwhile, Mr Gething also announced 15 Welsh care homes will take part in a pilot scheme to give visitors rapid lateral flow Covid-19 tests from next week, with plans to roll it out to further homes from December 14 if successful.

On Monday, Public Health Wales said there had been a further 892 cases of coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 73,233.

It also reported another nine deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 2,385.

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