It will take until 2026 Senedd election to fix damage done by Covid, Drakeford says
Mark Drakeford has said that it will take the entirety of the next Senedd term to fix the damage that Covid-19 has done to the NHS and the economy in Wales.
He said that he did not want to discuss his own party’s plans at today’s Welsh Government press conference but said that whoever was the next First Minister would have to deal with Covid-19 until the Senedd election after next, currently earmarked for 2026.
Defending his choice to bring forward restrictions, which had been branded as an election plot by the Conservatives, Mark Drakeford said that he had been surprised by the improvement in Wales over the last three weeks.
When he last spoke there were 35 Covid cases per 100,000 and the drop had been “quite slow,” he said. The fact that it had “more than halved” was “faster than we would have anticipated back then,” he said.
He also said that 615 were in Welsh hospitals with Covid related conditions, now it was 287, he said.
“We are also seeing signs that vaccination is reducing the number of people coming in through the front door of hospitals,” he said. “The impact of the pandemic is lessening and continuing to lessen.”
While it will be a matter for the next Welsh Government to decide, Mark Drakeford said he believed that if cases continued to stay low hospitality could re-open indoors from May 17. Four people will be able to meet when indoor hospitality re-opens, he said.
From tomorrow, six people from up to six different households will be able to meet outdoors. From Monday, the rule-of-six will apply in private gardens and in outdoor hospitality settings, and any cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars will be able to trade again.
“The continuing decline in coronavirus is the result of all your hard work,” Mark Drakeford said. “You have been keeping Wales safe as restrictions have been relaxed; as children have gone back to school and as shops and businesses have begun to trade once again.
“The pressure on our NHS is continuing to ease as the number of people needing hospital treatment for the virus has fallen to the lowest level since mid-September.
“And this is partly because Wales also has the most successful vaccination programme in the UK.”