FM due to announce easing of Wales’ Covid rules – but no ‘wholesale abandonment’ of restrictions
The First Minister will today announce the details of any further lockdown easing in Wales, and is expected to take a more cautious approach to that seen in England.
Wales’ cabinet will meet this morning in order to finalise the decision about any easing of restrictions. A statement in the Senedd is expected at 3pm and a press conference after 5pm.
Mark Drakeford is also expected to lay out a possible date in the future for a ‘Level 0’ of Covid restrictions which could be brought in at the end of another three-week review, on 9 August.
But speaking in the Senedd yesterday Mark Drakeford said that Wales would not see a “wholesale abandonment” of restrictions, adding that 760 people fell ill with coronavirus in Wales on Monday alone.
“And the thought that that is a promising context in which to move rapidly away from the protections that are still there to keep us safe—I’m not persuaded that this is the moment for such an approach,” he said.
England are planning on removing all restrictions on Monday, including working from home, social distancing and masks – although masks will remain mandatory on public transport in London.
The Welsh Government have already confirmed that face masks will remain mandatory on public transport, in taxis, and healthcare settings.
Plaid Cymru have called for face masks to remain mandatory in shops, while the Conservatives want Wales to stick close to England’s timetable.
Speaking in the Senedd yesterday, Mark Drakeford added that the danger of long-Covid was one reason why they were being more cautious than England in lifting restrictions.
“It’s one of our reasons for hesitation in the current circumstances because while the link between falling ill and hospitalisation has undoubtedly been amended by vaccination, large numbers of people falling ill in the community is not to be dismissed as though that wasn’t a matter of continuing concern,” he said.
“Because the more people who fall ill in the community, the greater the risk there will be that some of those people too will then suffer not just a temporary or minor illness, but an illness that will live with them for weeks and months beyond.”