Welsh Gov could impose tougher Covid restrictions next week because of Omicron threat
The Welsh Government will review Covid restrictions again week because of the threat posed by the Omicron variant.
Mark Drakeford has revealed that the current measures will only be in place for a week as the Cabinet moves away from a three week decision cycle on Covid-19 rules.
Wales is currently at alert level zero and the First Minister has confirmed that the Welsh Government will not introduce Covid regulations this week. However, next week that could change.
The First Minister said: “We don’t yet know how serious this form of illness will be, but the sheer speed at which the variant means that it has the potential to infect large numbers of people. That would then translate into a large increase in hospital admissions over the next month, just at the time when the NHS is already under severe and intense pressure.
“Now over the last week the Cabinet here has been reviewing the coronavirus regulations. We’ve carefully considered what protections we need to keep Wales safe from the current Delta wave. That wave is still with us now, and then to look as to how we can protect protect people from the Omicron wave which we know is coming our way.
“Now this is a very challenging balance. We may be about a week behind what is happening in other parts of England and Scotland, and this may give us a little bit more time here in Wales to learn and to act.
“But because at the speed at which things may change the Cabinet will move from a three week cycle of decision-making, to a one week cycle.
“That means that all the things that I am announcing today are here for the next week and then we will review the situation again. We’ll be monitoring the public health circumstances very closely to consider whether we need to put additional procections in place to keep Wales safe and of course we will keep you updated about any changes that might need to be made.”
‘Flow before they go’
The First Minister advising people to “flow before they go”, which means taking a lateral flow test before going out – whether that’s to a Christmas party, Christmas shopping, visiting friends or family, going to any crowded, or busy place or before travelling.
The Welsh Government is also advising the public to wear face coverings in pubs and restaurants when they aren’t eating or drinking.
Everyone must wear face coverings in most other indoor public places, in accordance with the law, including in cinemas and theatres.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is also urging everyone to have their Covid-19 booster vaccine as he warned Wales is facing a new wave of infections caused by the omicron variant.
More than a million people have already received their booster vaccine in Wales but the programme is being speeded up following the emergence of the fast-moving variant.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The emergence of the omicron variant is another worrying development in this long-running pandemic. We are concerned about the speed it is moving and its potential to infect large numbers of people.
“We are speeding up the roll-out of boosters in response to the new variant. We’re increasing the number of clinics and extending opening hours.
“Every single vaccination is a small victory against the virus – so please make getting your vaccine or booster a priority.
“This will be the best Christmas present you can give yourself and your family this year.”
There are a number of other measures people can take to help protect themselves from coronavirus, including the new omicron variant.
The First Minister will ask people to take regular lateral flow tests before going out and to wear face coverings in all public places help protect people in the lead up to Christmas.
The First Minister added: “None of us wanted to hear about the news of this new variant. After almost two years of the pandemic, we had all hoped that we could put coronavirus behind us this Christmas.
“But, we have faced challenges many times during this pandemic. And we have learned from each one. We are not back at square one.
“Please do everything you can to protect yourself and your loved ones. Please follow all the advice and all the measures which have kept us safe over the last couple of years. And let’s stay safe and well this Christmas.”