Welsh Government due to set out any lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

First Minister Mark Drakeford is to set out on Wednesday whether coronavirus restrictions can be eased in Wales.

The country’s incidence rate is currently 147 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people – the lowest in the UK – and it also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

Last month, the Welsh Government announced that plans to relax restrictions would be paused for four weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant across the country.

Mr Drakeford is due to confirm whether the delayed move to Alert Level One can now take place in a statement to the Welsh Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

He will also outline an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which will set out a future Alert Level Zero.

Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, Mr Drakeford said vaccines were “altering the relationship” between people falling ill with Covid-19 and requiring hospital treatment.

“That is why we are still able to contemplate further easements of the current restrictions,” Mr Drakeford told members.

“But none of us should ignore the risks that are caused when you have large numbers of people falling ill every day in the community.

“It increases the risk of new variants emerging, it increases the risk that people’s immunity will wane, it increases the risk of people falling ill with long Covid, it increases the risk that people are not available to be in the workplace because they have fallen ill or they’ve been in contact with someone who has fallen ill.”

Mr Drakeford described the link between people requiring hospital treatment and Covid-19 infection as “only part of the story”.

“We need to go on being concerned at the scale at which the Delta variant is taking hold in Wales and the hundreds and hundreds of people who are falling ill as a result,” he added.

On Tuesday, there were 69 people in Welsh hospitals with Covid-19. This figure was below 20 less than a month ago.

Mr Drakeford said the number of people falling seriously unwell because of the Delta variant was “growing nearly every day” in Wales.

“That’s why when the Cabinet considers the possibilities we have in Wales, we are going to proceed in the way that we have throughout the pandemic – namely very carefully, considering the evidence that we have, and taking a phased approach,” he added.

The first minister told the Senedd that people in Wales had been prepared to play their part in a collective manner throughout the pandemic.

He described how the Welsh Government had received letters asking ministers not to leave the “sensible precautions” that the country had been following, while others were “deeply anxious” about the rules being lifted.

“The mood of Welsh people is not a mood of thirsting for some spurious freedom day,” Mr Drakeford said.

“It remains a cautious approach in which people want each one of us to go on playing our part.”