Should we expect a second firebreak lockdown in the new year?

Second lockdown January
Credit: Dewi Morris
Ministers have hinted at the possibility of a second national lockdown in the new year. A second firebreak will depend on the expect rise of cases over Christmas.

By Dewi Morris | Political Editor

Mark Drakeford has described Wales’ 17-day firebreak lockdown as a “pathway to Christmas.” The First Minister is hopeful action now will mean lesser restrictions over the holidays, however, Drakeford told ITV, on October 25:

“In the new year, who knows what position we will face?… If things were to be again as serious as they are in Wales today, nobody can rule out us needing to take further extraordinary measures.”

Lee Waters, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, told the BBC, “I’m afraid it’s going to get worse. This is not the last lockdown we’re likely to see,”

“I think the projections in the papers we’ve published on our worst-case scenarios shows it’s likely we’re going to need to have another firebreak in January or February.”

Asked whether he agreed with Waters’ statement, Health Minister Vaughan Gething, said:

“None of us can say what is likely…What we are being really upfront with people about is that the firebreak is necessary to deal with the exponential rise in cases and the exponential rise in harm that we are seeing.”

It appears the likelihood of a second firebreak in a few months’ time will be dependent on the results achieved by this first firebreak lockdown, and of course on the likely rise of cases over Christmas.

With no easy way to end the pandemic without a vaccine or eradicating the virus, going in and out of lockdowns is what we should perhaps expect.

The current lockdown in Wales has not been without controversy, and opinion on the Welsh Government’s actions seems to be split in the UK press.

The Spectator wrote that Drakeford is “starting to turn Wales into a wartime, command economy: East Germany, except not as efficient, and with more sheep.”

However, another view is that the firebreak is necessary to restrict a rapid rise in cases. Sion Jobbins, Chair of YesCymru, said:

“People have seen that the Senedd in Wales is much more competent at running Wales’s affairs than Westminster, and we can do so with more empathy and compassion as well.” 

According to YouGov, a majority of Brits believe the UK Government have performed badly in preparing for a second wave over Christmas, only 24% agreed the UK Government had done well.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any polls on opinions of the Welsh Government’s preparations, however, YouGov found that a majority of people in Wales believe that devolved governments should make decisions on coronavirus in their nation.

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