Shopping streets packed after Wales ends 17-day lockdown

Shopping in Wales

Wales’ first minister has said there are “tentative early positive signs” that the spread of coronavirus has slowed, as people visited non-essential shops and cafes for the first time after the country’s firebreak lockdown.

Queues were seen outside shops including Primark and Matalan in Cardiff as the restrictions were relaxed.

Mark Drakeford said recent high numbers of new cases of COVID-19 were beginning to drop as Wales begins life under new national measures.

In his Welsh government press briefing he said the all-Wales level had now dropped from 250 cases per 100,000 people to just under 220 cases – but stressed it was “vital” people continued to work from home.

Mr Drakeford said: “We won’t know the full impact for a couple of weeks yet but there are some tentative early positive signs, and those give us some hope.

“Mobility data shows large increases in people staying at home during the firebreak – back to the levels last seen in May.

“It is vital that working from home as much as possible continues beyond today.”

He said ministers would be looking for “any new evidence we can use to help us to plot the future”.

“But if we are going to alter the course of this virus, it will not be the rules and regulations alone which make the difference.

“Our success or failure lies in the hands of every one of us and how we act from now on. We cannot go back to how things were earlier in the autumn,” Mr Drakeford said.

The end of the 17-day lockdown means groups of up to four people can now meet up in cafes, pubs and restaurants while shops, gyms, hairdressers and places of worship can also reopen.

Supermarkets can again sell non-essential items while people will only be allowed to meet up inside homes with members of one other household if they have joined into a “bubble”.

Mr Drakeford said the new national measures would be reviewed in a fortnight, stressing that the country’s exit from the firebreak needed to be “careful and cautious so that we can maximise its impact.”