About six million people in the United Kingdom face tougher COVID-19 lockdowns in coming days as Wales and Manchester, the country’s third largest city, mull additional restrictions as the novel coronavirus outbreak accelerates.
In the case of Wales, a temporary national lockdown will be put into place in Wales, the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced on Monday.
The Welsh government believes a two-week lockdown, or firebreak, from Friday at 6pm is vital to help bring the virus under control.
Already about 2.3 million people in Wales are living under local lockdown rules – 15 of Wales’ 22 counties plus Bangor and Llanelli.
The Labour-led Welsh government has also banned people from travelling into Wales from tier 2 and tier 3 areas in other parts of the UK.
The United Kingdom recorded 16,982 new daily cases of COVID-19 in the space of 24 hours, according to government data issued on Sunday, up from 16,717 the previous day.
After a public row with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of attempting to sacrifice the north of England to save jobs in the south, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said a lockdown could be imposed within days.
“We do need to conclude this,” Jenrick said of talks with local leaders, adding that the basis for an agreement was there.
Johnson has threatened to put the area into “Tier 3” – the highest level of restrictions forcing pubs and bars to close and banning different households from mixing indoors – against the will of local leaders if agreement is not possible.
Jenrick said he was hopeful a deal could be struck with Manchester leaders on Monday, with newspapers reporting that tens of millions of pounds were on offer to help businesses cope with the lockdown measures.