Wales’ Health Minister ‘wants to see evidence’ before reducing 2m rule as in England

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething. Photo by Ymnes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething today said that he wanted to see the evidence before reducing the 2m social distancing rule to 1m as in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that from 4 July the two-metre rule is to be relaxed in England to “one metre plus” where 2m is not possible – but people will be encouraged to have mitigation in place to reduce transmission.

Boris Johnson said: “We can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England. At every stage, caution will remain our watchword. Each step will be conditional and reversible.”

However, Vaughan Gething said that easing the lockdown too quickly would lead to “economic scarring” if the number of cases grew as a result.

Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily press conference he said that he would need to see on what evidence the Prime Minister’s announcement was based before making a decision.

“If there is evidence that underpins any change then we will, of course, consider that and consider what that means for Wales,” he said.

“We will continue to take the approach that we have done. Our objective is to keep Wales safe and we will only change if the evidence is there. That means if we can make changes that don’t place people at unnecessary risk.

“That remains the driver of this government here in Wales and it remains the basis on which I make decisions together with ministerial colleagues.”

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released today showed that deaths in Wales were below the five year average for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Indoors

Wales’ First Minister Mar Drakeford later tweeted: “Changes to the 2-metre rule announced by UK government today only apply in England.

“The 2m rule remains in place in Wales to help limit the spread of the virus. We keep this rule under constant review – our focus is on helping to save lives.”

Boris Johnson also announced that from 4 July pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open both indoors and outdoors if they put in safety guidelines including table service online.

However, nightclubs, spas, indoor soft play areas, bowling alleys, water parks, indoor gyms, nail bars, swimming pools and water parks will not be able to reopen.

In Wales, non-essential shopping reopened yesterday and self-contained holiday accomidation will be allowed to open from 13 July. But there are no plans presently to re-open pubs and restaurants.

In England, people will also be allowed to meet with one other household at a time indoors, subject to social distancing.

The Welsh Government are expected to consider plans for extended households or “bubbles” in the next few weeks.

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