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England and Wales 'will consider extra restrictions on top of three-tier lockdown', says Welsh health minister

Ross McGuinness
·4-min read

Watch: Vaughan Gething says extra measures will be required in addition to three-tier lockdown

England and Wales will consider extra coronavirus restrictions on top of the incoming three-tier lockdown, the Welsh health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething said the new system alone would not be enough to bring the UK’s R number below 1, which would mean the number of people contracting coronavirus was decreasing.

He said Wales is considering adopting England’s three-tier lockdown, set to be announced by Boris Johnson later on Monday.

The prime minister will give a speech to MPs in the House of Commons later this afternoon before addressing the nation about the changes this evening, amid questions over whether the plan can drive down infections.

Ahead of Johnson’s speech to the Commons, Gething said: “It’s also clear there will be measures beyond tier three as well.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said extra measures will be required in addition to the three-tier lockdown. (Welsh Government)
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said extra measures will be required in addition to the three-tier lockdown. (Welsh Government)

“We understand that some parts of England will have additional measures put in place that go beyond tier three.

“It’s also clear from the advice that we are receiving from our own chief medical officer’s department and from our chief scientific adviser on health, is that tier three measures as we understand them in England won’t be enough to bring the R number below 1.

“So we are going to have to think about additional measures beyond that, just as England are having to consider.”

Latest figures show the COVID-19 rate in Wales in the past seven days was more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.

And an Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey suggests that one person in every 500 has the virus in Wales.

The UK’s R number is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.5, according to the Government Office for Science.

Gething also warned that Wales could be placed under a second national lockdown in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.

He said local measures in place across parts of the country may not be enough to suppress the increasing rate of virus transmissions into the winter months.

A decision will be made in the coming days on whether the current local lockdowns are to be maintained or new all-Wales measures could be imposed, he said.

“I do not want to scare people, but I do want people to understand that we potentially face a very difficult few months ahead of us,” he said.

Gething and Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford attended a Cobra meeting chaired by Johnson on Monday morning in which England’s three-tier strategy was discussed.

Gething said Johnson “has chosen not to act” on the issue of travel restrictions for areas of England with high levels of COVID-19.

He said he and Drakeford are “both really disappointed that the prime minister is still taking an approach where there is only going to be guidance on whether people should or shouldn’t travel out of highly infected areas”.

He added: “We do understand that there has already been an importation of coronavirus cases from contact with some of those high-prevalence areas in England.”

Bar staff clearing away tables for the evening in Manchester. The Government is expected to announce new measures later today that could see pubs and bars forced to close to combat the spread of the virus in northern England and other areas suffering a surge in Covid-19 cases. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pubs in the worst hit areas of England could face closure under the incoming three-tier lockdown. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Drakeford described the British government’s proposals for travel restrictions in areas of England with high levels of coronavirus as “inadequate”.

Under the new three-tier plans, areas of England are expected to be categorised as medium, high or very high risk, which will inform the level of intervention required.

The new restrictions are expected to hit areas of the North of England, where infection rates are high, particularly hard.

Tier one areas would continue with ongoing restrictions such as the “rule of six” and the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.

Tier two could mean an additional ban on households mixing indoors, while tier three is expected to add the closure of pubs, bars, casinos and gyms.

On Monday, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the three-tier lockdown could last until “after Christmas”.

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