No disagreements between UK nations on Christmas plan – Welsh First Minister

Mark Drakeford said a country-wide plan is still being worked on.

Christmas market
Christmas market

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said “there are no sticking points, there are no disagreements” regarding discussions between the UK nations about plans for Christmas.

He said the four chief medical officers have been asked to “look together at the detailed work that is being done” on whether restrictions can be eased over the festive period, and provide their views.

Mr Drakeford said: “I’m generally hopeful that we will reach an agreement on a range of issues, but travel is the one I think which is most important to us in Wales because of the permeable nature of our border.

Shoppers
Cardiff city centre has been busy with Christmas shoppers after the country came out of lockdown (Ben Birchall/PA)

“But the other things that will need to be thought about are how long any period of relaxation might last, the extent to which a greater degree of household mixing might be possible during any period of relaxation, how we factor in things like movement of people from one part of the country to another.”

He said the UK nations will also have to “plan together” for the fact that as people mix and get together at Christmas, coronavirus will spread.

“If for the special reasons of Christmas we are to allow more of that to happen, there will be a period afterwards where we see those figures rise again and I am keen that across the UK, we think about that together and think about what measures we may need to take in response,” Mr Drakeford said.

The Welsh Labour leader said although there has been “a great deal of speculation” about what the UK nations’ Christmas plan will look like, “it is still being worked on”.

He rejected the suggestion that Wales could be in a worse position to accommodate a relaxing of measures over Christmas having already entered and left lockdown.

Mark Drakeford
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the four nations of the UK are working together on plans for Christmas (PA)

England will continue with its own second lockdown until December 2, Northern Ireland will enter a two-week circuit-breaker next Friday, while Scotland has placed two million people in its toughest level of restrictions for three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said: “The brakes were applied early because that was the advice of (scientific experts) Sage. The earlier that we could introduce a firebreak, the more effective it would be.

“I don’t think it would be a fair reflection to say that by going early we have created risk.”

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