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New Covid support bubble can be formed in 10 days if one ‘breaks down’ Mark Drakeford says

29 Jan 2021 3 minutes Read
First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Wales’ First Minister has said that a new coronavirus support bubble arrangement can be formed as long as there is gap of 10 days before doing so after a previous one has “broken down”.

He also said that a maximum of two people from different households will be able to exercise outdoors together, as long as they maintain social distancing.

This must involve exercise starting from and finishing from home – driving for exercise to beauty spots should still not take place, he said. These changes will come into effect on Saturday 30 January 2021.

He said that lifting lockdown would happen slowly or cases would “shoot up” again and undo everyone’s “hard work”.

Rates of coronavirus across Wales have fallen below 200 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since early November.

More than 362,000 people have now had a first vaccine dose and “over the last week someone has been vaccinated every five seconds in Wales,” Mark Drakeford says. The latest figures show almost 11% of the population have been vaccinated.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are making steady progress in bringing coronavirus under control once again. Every day, the vaccination programme is speeding up as more people are vaccinated and more clinics open. Each vaccine is another small victory against the virus.

“We’ve seen a really welcome fall in cases of the virus all over Wales, but they are still too high and the NHS continues to be under intense pressure.

“We need to keep the lockdown restrictions in place for a little while longer to help us bring rates of the virus down further. If we can do this, we will create the headroom we need to get children back to school after half term – starting with the youngest at primary schools

“We will work with teachers, colleges, local authorities to plan for the safe return of children to school over the next couple of weeks and keep parents updated.”

More to follow…

Schools

The youngest children in Wales could begin returning to school after the February half term, if rates of coronavirus continue to fall, the First Minister repeated.

The return to primary school will be planned in a phased and flexible way from 22 February, if the public health situation continues to improve, he said.

Students studying vocational qualifications will also be among those prioritised for the phased return to colleges.

“I understand the anxiety that all staff experience,” Mark Drakeford said of schools reopening. “We will do everything we can in the week again to work with teacher unions to make sure workplaces are as safe as they can be.”

The further £200m support for non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses will help firms with operational costs, and brings the package of business support provided through the Economic Resilience Fund since December to £650m.

Businesses with a rateable value of up to £500,000 will receive support payments of between £3,000 and £5,000. Economy Minister Ken Skates will provide further details later today, the Welsh Government said.

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