Restrictions to return in Wales unless Covid cases fall in next three weeks, says First Minister
The First Minister has warned that tougher restrictions are set to return to Wales if Covid-19 cases don’t fall in the next three weeks.
Mark Drakeford said that he would keep Wales at alert level zero for now – but said that protective measures will be strengthened to keep people safe and help reduce high levels of coronavirus in Wales.
Rates of coronavirus in Wales are currently the highest in the UK and there is still some question as to whether they have peaked.
The First Minister said Wales is facing a serious situation and that unless rates begin to fall over the next three weeks, Ministers will have to consider reintroducing some restrictions at the next review to bring the spread of the virus under control.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Over the past three weeks, coronavirus cases have risen sharply to the highest rates we have seen since the pandemic began and more people are falling so seriously ill that they need hospital treatment.
“All this means that the pandemic is far from over. We need to take more action now to strengthen the measures we have in place at alert level zero to prevent coronavirus spreading even further and more people falling seriously ill.
“We hope this action will help to turn the tide of this delta. None of us wants to see a return to restrictions but if rates continue to rise, the Cabinet will have no choice but to consider raising the alert level at the next review.
“Let’s all work together as a team to reduce the spread of coronavirus and keep Wales open and keep Wales safe.”
‘Alert level zero’
Announcing the outcome of the latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations, the First Minister will confirm Wales will remain at alert level zero but some extra measures will be taken to protect people’s health.
The guidance around self-isolation is changing. Adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people aged five to 17 will be asked to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.
People who are not vaccinated will still have to self-isolate for 10 days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close contacts outside of their household.
Headteachers will be given extra support to quickly put measures in place in their schools if case rates are high locally.
Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.
And, while coronavirus cases remain very high, the Welsh Government intends to extend the use of COVID Pass to theatres, cinemas and concert halls from 15 November. It says it is doing this because these are settings where large numbers of people gather indoors, close to each other, for long periods at a time.
The Welsh Government says vaccines remain the best defence against the virus – almost 400,000 people have had their autumn booster since the programme was launched and more than 40% of 12 to 15-year-olds have had their vaccine.
The four UK chief medical officers have asked the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation for urgent advice about reducing the interval between the second dose of the vaccine and the booster.
The Welsh Government continues to encourage everyone to work from home wherever possible and to remind everyone of the legal requirement to wear a face covering in indoor public places.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething yesterday met with retailers to urge them to do everything they can to raise awareness of the legal requirement to wear face coverings in shops.