Wales considering changes to outdoor meeting rules, health minister says

The Welsh Government is considering changes to its ban on people meeting in outside spaces, the country’s health minister has said.

Vaughan Gething said a review of lockdown rules next week would be informed by evidence that coronavirus is “very likely” to decay within a few minutes when exposed to sunlight.

On Tuesday, Public Health Wales said a further 17 people had died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths to 1,224, while the number of confirmed cases grew by 166 to 12,570.

At the Welsh Government’s daily press briefing, Mr Gething said “developing evidence” on the risk of transmitting the virus outside, published on Tuesday by the government’s Technical Advisory Cell (TAC), would feed into “active considerations” about easing restrictions.

People in Wales are currently banned from meeting up outdoors with people they do not live with, but from Tuesday people in Northern Ireland are allowed to do so in groups of up to six people, while in England people are allowed to do so with one other person.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Mr Gething said: “This is the developing evidence that we are receiving and, obviously, we are reviewing our rules on lockdown every three weeks as we’re required by the law that’s been introduced.

“And so we need to think about what that then means, not just about being outside, but who you’re outside with, and the level of contact you have.

“These are active considerations, and the evidence we published today helps to inform not just the public debate, but the very real debate that ministers are having with our advisers.”

The report published by TAC, the group which guides the government’s response to the crisis, said: “The virus is very likely to decay very quickly (a few minutes) in air and on surfaces when exposed to sunlight. This adds to the evidence that outdoor environments are highly likely to be a lower risk for transmission.”

The report also said while there was evidence the virus “is likely to be stable for long periods of time on indoor surfaces and in air”, its rate of decay on surfaces increased at a higher temperature and humidity, which could effect guidance on working environments.

The report said: “There may likely be small benefits in operating buildings at a higher temperature and/or humidity where this doesn’t cause significant thermal discomfort to occupants.”

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