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Covid: Firebreak lockdown ends as new restrictions begin

Wales' 17-day firebreak lockdown has ended and a new set of nation-wide regulations have come into force.

The "short, sharp" lockdown saw people told to stay home, an end to extended households for most, and pubs, restaurants, hotels, gyms, hairdressers and non-essential shops closed.

From Monday people can travel anywhere within Wales and two households can again form a bubble.

Businesses that shut during the firebreak can now reopen.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told BBC Wales Breakfast the firebreak had aimed to "turn back the tide" of rising cases and hospital admissions, but the impact would not be visible for some weeks.

"I am confident we will see the impact of what we have done over the last 17 days in the weeks that now follow," he said.

 

He added the lifting of restrictions did not mean that people could do whatever they wanted.

"Although people can travel from today, the very clear message from the government is only travel if it's really necessary. This is not an invitation to get in your car and start travelling around Wales.

"The fewer people we meet, the fewer journeys we all make, the more we work from home, the safer we will all be."

He added that the government's ability to control coronavirus depends on people's behaviour.

"Coronavirus isn't something that happens to somebody else. It can happen just as easily to you and what you do, the decisions you make, are the decisions that keep you and other people safe."

If people behave irresponsibly, "everything we have done together to suppress the virus will be undone," he added.

Wales' lockdown - which the Welsh Government said would help prevent the health service in Wales becoming "overwhelmed" - ends just a few days after England's four-week lockdown started.

Wales has seen almost 7,000 coronavirus cases in the last seven days and the death toll is now more than 2,000 people since the pandemic began.

The number of patients in Welsh hospitals with coronavirus is now the highest since the height of the pandemic in April - and areas like Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Blaenau Gwent have some of the worst Covid-19 infection rates in the UK.

But Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething said on Sunday the country was starting to see a plateauing in the case rate.

He added: "It's still at a high rate which means that there's still a reservoir of coronavirus within our communities."

 

Source: BBC

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