FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford says the “much higher” risk of catching coronavirus now in Wales compared to the summer is the reason behind a “firebreak” lockdown coming into effect from Friday.

The country will effectively enter a second lockdown at 6pm on Friday, October 23, which will run until Monday, November 9.

The “circuit breaker” lockdown, details of which were leaked over the weekend, is expected to last for 17 days, with Mr Drakeford “categorically ruling out” an extension beyond November 9.

When asked why rural areas like Powys, and their businesses, are being put into lockdown, Mr Drakeford told media at his daily briefing on Monday lunchtime: “An all-Wales firebreak is because even though there are gaps in areas where local lockdowns are not yet needed, numbers are significantly up in a series of those areas, and it simply makes sense.

“This has to be a national effort. Every single part of Wales has to make a contribution. We now need to ask everybody, wherever they live, to make contributions. Every contribution, however small, will make the difference. We’re asking every citizen wherever they live to make their contribution.”

The news comes as a particular blow to tourism and businesses in Wales – especially in relatively unaffected areas like Powys and neighbouring Ceredigion, which are two of Wales’ least affected areas and two of just five counties not subject to local lockdown restrictions.

As part of the new measures, people will be told to stay at home, while pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will shut.

Leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres will also close, while places of worship will be closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings.

Gatherings indoors and outdoors with people not in your household will also be banned.

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Mr Drakeford added: “The evidence from the summer, when incidents of coronavirus were very low, was that visitors from within and to Wales acted responsibly and we didn’t see the virus in greater circulation because of tourism at that point.

“We’re in a very different context now where evidence does show people traveling within Wales and into Wales risk taking the virus with them to the places they are visiting.

“That is because there is an awful lot more coronavirus in circulation so that risk is much higher.

“Our colleagues in the tourism business industry have worked exceptionally hard to make sure they take local communities with them and provide a really good experience for visitors. This was the case during the summer, we had tens of thousands of visitors.

“It is really important we go on explaining that the reason we are asking people not to travel within Wales or into Wales is not because we want to keep people away or don’t look forward to them visiting again, but because in the emergency we are facing, now is not the moment to do so.”

In terms of approaching popular holidays like Hallowe’en and fireworks displays for November 5, Mr Drakeford said those gatherings were already banned, but he did reveal that Remembrance Day services would be marked – albeit much quieter than usual.

“Gatherings won’t be allowed,” he said.

“I think it will be self-policed because it will be very obvious if people are breaking the law. There will be an exception for Remembrance Sunday. To mark national sacrifice – this seems more appropriate than ever at another time of national sacrifice. But gatherings will be small.”