BRITAIN is nearly in third wave of coronavirus, Mark Drakeford warned today as he slammed the brakes on Wales’ unlocking, and Scotland extended their Covid powers until the end of the YEAR.
The Welsh First Minister announced he was copying Boris Johnson and pausing lockdown-lifting for four weeks to buy more time for vaccines to wrestle down the spread of the super-infectious Delta variant.
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His sobering warning that the UK was at the “pre-peak” stage of another spike fueled fears that England’s Freedom Day might be pushed back again, as MPs fear.
The PM has insisted July 19 is the “terminus date” when all restrictions on social contact will be ripped up.
But lockdown-hating MPs despair that – after Monday’s delay – Freedom Day will be kicked down the road once more.
Charles Walker MP said earlier this week tha the has lost all faith in the PM’s promise to lift lockdown on July 19 at the latest.
He fumed: “I think we’re now going to see the reversing of the irreversible roadmap. And that’s when this is all going to hit the fan.”
Today Mr Johnson poured cold water on easing restrictions on July 5 – the two-week review point – and said it was all hands to the pump for July 19.
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon today sowed more doubts by extending her Government’s Covid powers into December.
The Scottish First Minister’s bill does not extend lockdown measures but allows courts to sit remotely and gives tenants protection from eviction.
She also banned Scots from travelling to Covid-afflicted Manchester and Salford – but lifted the ban on Bedford.
She said this week it was “unlikely” she would be pressing ahead with her roadmap next week – and said lockdown will be delayed until July 19 at the very earliest.
Addressing the four-week delays in Scotland and England, Mr Drakeford said: “Today, I have to announce that we will be doing the same in Wales.”
Mr Drakeford told a press conference that eight out of 10 new cases of coronavirus in Wales are believed to be from the Delta variant.
The First Minister said: “In just a few weeks, the Delta variant has entered Wales and spread quickly throughout the country”
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“There is a sustained and accelerating pattern of transmission, not just in the north and south-east of Wales but in all parts of the country.
“That means that we are, once again, facing a serious public health situation. Our scientific advisers believe that the United Kingdom is now at the pre-peak stage of a third wave of this pandemic.
“Wales may be two to three weeks behind what is happening in England and in Scotland, where tens of thousands of cases have been confirmed, where there is widespread transmission and reports of increased hospital admissions as well.”