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Lockdown in Wales could get even tougher, warns First Minister – but he’s reluctant to inflict more misery – North Wales Live

https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/lockdown-wales-could-even-tougher-19591318

The Welsh Government has strengthened its alert level 4 measures in Wales – and warned things could get tougher still.

In the first of its three-weekly reviews, the administration announced further measures on Friday to stem the level of coronavirus in the country.

Speaking at a Covid briefing in Cardiff, First Minister Mark Drakeford said hopes the virus was levelling off had been dampened by the latest data.

Nearly 2,500 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Friday, taking the national seven-day average to 465 infections per 100,000 people – more than 20 points higher than on Monday.

More than 2,700 coronavirus-related patients are now being cared for in Welsh hospitals, including 143 in critical care.

Having already announced on Friday morning that the lockdown will continue to January 29, when it will be reviewed again, Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government will be strengthening measures in three main areas – making shops safer, shutting schools and protecting workplaces.

He later told North Wales Live there are other tools at Cardiff’s disposal should things get even worse – but that he would be reluctant to use them.

Places of worship and childcare facilities are still open in Wales, unlike Scotland, he said.

Northern Ireland has also voluntarily closed places of worship for the next four weeks.

Click and collect services from shops are still available in Wales too.

A volunteer cleans her seat in St Asaph Cathedral following a private prayer

A volunteer cleans her seat in St Asaph Cathedral following a private prayer
(Image: Ian Cooper/North Wales Live)

“So there are still things we could do,” said Mr Drakeford.

“All of them are things I would regret doing.

“I very hope we can still keep places of worship open: they are small services but they do matter an awful lot to people who are involved in them.

“Childcare too is very important in terms of allowing key workers to go to work.

“What it does illustrate is that there are still measures available to us that we could take.

“But it’s not part of the plan for the next three weeks.”

More immediately, the Welsh Government is looking to strengthen measures in supermarkets and food stores, with strict number limits and social distancing rules re-introduced.

This, said Mr Drakeford, was the number one concern raised by people in his letter bag.

He said: “I want to be confident that supermarkets are being run in Wales today in the same way they were back in March and April last year.

“I want people to be confident that there are proper controls on the number of people entering supermarkets.”

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This included “genuine efforts” to make sure supermarkets are policed in a way that prevent customers bumping into one another and having “carefully organised” checkouts.

The Welsh Government is also aiming to improve protection in workplaces, in liaison with employers and trade unions.

It has also brought decisions over schools and colleges into line with the lockdown review.

This means young people will now be taught online until January 29 at the earliest, and more likely until the February half-term.

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