Coronavirus: UK nations must work together ahead of Christmas, says Welsh first minister

·3-min read

All four UK nations need to work together to apply a single set of coronavirus rules to approach Christmas, the Welsh first minister has told Sky News.

Speaking on Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mark Drakeford also said that following a "firebreak" period in Wales, another national lockdown should not be necessary there, depending on people's "behaviour" in the coming weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a meeting between all four nations has been promised by Michael Gove "so that we can pool ideas, plan together and have a common approach to the Christmas period".

He told Ridge: "Christmas is a very special time for all of us, the restrictions people have had to live with are incredibly difficult and demanding. Everybody is tired and fatigued of coronavirus.

"If we could offer some respite over the Christmas period that is what we would want to do but it needs to be a common plan and a common approach where the rules are the same as much as we can make them.

"I really hope that the UK government is serious about this and makes certain that those opportunities exist for us all."

Wales will reach the end of its 17-day firebreak period on Monday, while England will remain in lockdown until 2 December.

Mr Drakeford said the progress made from the firebreak "will give us a path through to Christmas without needing to go back into this extraordinary period of restriction" in Wales.

"It depends though, crucially, not simply on how people behaved during the firebreak period but on how we all behave in the weeks that follow it," he said.

He added that people should be asking themselves "not what can I do, how far can I stretch the rules, but what should I do, what should I do to keep myself and other people safe".

Last week, Boris Johnson also expressed hopes for "as normal a Christmas as possible", adding that England's four-week lockdown will be "enough" to make a "real impact".

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Mr Drakeford also made clear that Wales would use a set of national measures going forward as opposed to relying on local restrictions.

"What we've said is that we will not go back and rely on a patchwork of local measures," he said.

"We are going to have a new set of national rules that are clearer and I hope simpler and therefore easier to follow.

"Does that mean that local measures will not be needed to supplement that in some cases? No it doesn't and we've never ruled that out."

When asked about the rising number of cases in Wales, Mr Drakeford said he had been aware numbers would continue to increase during the firebreak period, but that the impact of the restrictions should be seen in the next few weeks.

"That is when we hope to see numbers declining, that is when we expect the number of people going into our hospitals to begin to go into reverse," he said.

Wales' firebreak period has seen people urged to stay at home, only leaving for a limited number of reasons, with restaurants, bars and most shops closed.