Wales to get tier system after Christmas with lockdown unless situation improves

Wales to get tier system after Christmas with lockdown unless situation improves

Wales will “inevitably” go back into lockdown after Christmas unless existing measures to control the virus work.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced an updated version of Wales’ Covid control plan will be published next week – with four risk levels or tiers.

The plan will set out in detail how national measures will be introduced in a more uniform and predictable way.

It will depend on a range of indicators, including the level of the virus in Wales and the risk of infection.

The First Minister confirmed there could be different levels in different parts of Wales depending on infection rates – moving to more of a tiered type system seen in Scotland and England.

This has been something demanded by business leaders and politicians in North Wales where infection rates have been lower than those in South Wales.

Mr Drakeford also said outdoor attractions in Wales will be closed but dismissed reports of an alcohol ban in shops and a nighttime curfew.

The plan sets out four alert levels – from alert level one to alert level four:

  • Alert level one (low-risk)  – this represents the closest to normality we are likely to have before the summer and the widespread take-up of vaccinations.
  • Alert level two (medium-risk)  – additional, targeted controls are put in place to maintain infection rates at lower levels. These may be complemented by more targeted local restrictions to manage specific incidents and outbreaks.
  • Alert level three (high-risk)  – these are the strictest package of restrictions, short of a firebreak or lockdown.
  • Alert level four (very high risk)  – restrictions at this level are equivalent to a lockdown and reflect the seriousness of the situation.

The alert level is now three but Mr Drakeford said there was a risk of moving to lockdown after Christmas – but that it was not a forgone conclusion.

This could be reviewed every three weeks.

He said the “future remains in our hands”.

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He added: “The most important thing we can all do to control the spread of coronavirus is to reduce the number of people are in contact with.

“This virus thrives on human behaviour – whenever and wherever we come together and spend time together, the virus can be transmitted from person to person.”

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “Businesses will have received a very sobering message from the First Minister today about the rate at which coronavirus continues to rise in Wales.

“We welcome that the First Minister will publish details of the refreshed tier system for Wales on Monday. We had previously called for a better understanding of the sorts of measures that Welsh Government might implement and when, and we are pleased that the Covid Control Plan will hopefully provide this clarification.

“We would appreciate further detail on how regions may move in and out of tiers, which is something that has been a significant concern in some areas of Wales.

“We also need clarity as to the exit strategy from tiers and an approach that allows businesses the ability to plan to go into a tier, but also, importantly, to come out. It is critical that businesses feel that they understand and are bought into this process, so clear communications will be vital.

Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy chair

“We heard clearly the First Minister’s concern that if the situation doesn’t improve in Wales, then Wales will move into tier 4.

“Businesses will expect clarity as to when that could happen with enough time for them to plan.

“Welsh Government also needs to publish the business support package that will be made available within the tiers, and businesses also want to have confidence that the business support system is in a position to respond quickly should Wales go into tier 4.

“We cannot ignore that this comes at a time of great concern, including not least the precarious Brexit negotiations, which, depending on the outcome, represents serious peril for a number of businesses across Wales. This makes the need to get business support right in the first instance even more pressing.

“There is no doubt as to the challenges facing Wales and our economy, and businesses will continue to play their part to keep Wales and its people safe.”

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