FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford announced a four-week pause to the coronavirus rules on Friday (June 18) to help boost protection against the new delta variant.
Wales’ world-leading vaccine programme will speed up second doses over the next four weeks – with a planned deployment of more than half a million doses to help prevent a fresh wave of serious illness as cases of coronavirus begin to rise.
The latest figures show there are almost 490 cases of the delta variant in Wales. More than four out five new Covid cases in Wales are the delta variant and two-thirds of these are not linked to travel or contact with another case, suggesting community spread.
Wales’ coronavirus case rate has risen steadily since the end of May and the positivity rate has more than doubled – but it remains the lowest in the UK.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“In the space of just a few short weeks, the delta variant has entered Wales and quickly spread throughout the country. There is sustained and accelerating transmission, not just in North and South East Wales but in all parts of Wales.
“It is now the most dominant variant in new cases in Wales. We are once again facing a serious public health situation.
“We have the lowest coronavirus rates in the UK and the highest vaccination rates for first doses. A four-week delay in relaxing restrictions could help to reduce the peak number of daily hospital admissions by up to half, at a time when the NHS is very busy supporting all our healthcare needs – not just treating coronavirus.”
The Welsh Government reviewed the public health situation this week, mid-way through the current three-week regulations cycle, after announcing a phased move into alert level one. The rules around larger outdoor activities and events were relaxed on June 7.
Although there will be no substantive changes to the rules for a four-week period – the regulations will be reviewed again on 15 July – some small technical amendments are being made to the coronavirus regulations to make them easier to understand and easier to apply for businesses.
- The number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership reception or wake, organised by a business in an indoors regulated premise, such as a hotel, will be determined by the size of the venue and a risk assessment.
- Clarifying small grassroots music and comedy venues will be able to operate on the same basis as hospitality venues, like pubs and cafes.
- Primary school children in the same school contact group or bubble will be able to stay overnight in a residential outdoor education centre.
Pilot events in theatre, sport and other sectors will also continue throughout June and July.
The First Minister added:
“This week, we reached the target of offering all eligible adults their first dose vaccine six weeks ahead of schedule.
“But those offers won’t help protect people, unless everyone turns up for their first and second dose appointments.
“I would urge everyone to take up their invitation for a vaccine and to complete the full two-dose course. It’s the best way we can protect ourselves against this virus.”