Christmas coronavirus plans are “still being worked on”, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.
Speaking at Welsh Government’s coronavirus press conference on Friday (November 20), the First Minister said a “four-nation approach” to Christmas restrictions was still the preferred option.
The First Minister said Welsh Government has been “working closely” with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the UK Government, to reach a UK-wide arrangement for Christmas, which could potentially allow people to mix with family members and friends from across the UK over the festive period.
Currently, the whole of England is in lockdown, while parts of Scotland, including Glasgow, have also been placed under tighter restrictions.
In Northern Ireland, a two-week firebreak lockdown will come into force on Friday, November 27.
In Wales, a 17-day firebreak lockdown came to an end on November 9.
The current restrictions in place in Wales will remain for at least another two weeks, the First Minister confirmed, following a meeting with Welsh Government ministers on Thursday (November 19).
What are the current restrictions in place in Wales?
(Source: Welsh Government)
- People will only be able to meet people who are part of their ‘bubble’ in their own home; only two households will be able to form a ‘bubble’. If one person from either household develops symptoms, everyone should immediately self-isolate.
- People (from different households) will be able to meet in groups of up to four people (not including any children aged under 11) in regulated indoor places, such as hospitality – bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants. No alcohol can be served in any of these venues between 10pm and 6am, and where premises have a licence to sell alcohol they will have to close at 10.20pm.
- As part of keeping risks to a minimum, people should avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. There will be no legal restrictions on travel within Wales for residents, but people can only travel into and out of Wales with a reasonable excuse.
- Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity (such as an exercise class – where a responsible body is managing the event) and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other covid safety measures are followed.
- All childcare facilities, schools, further education colleges, work-based learning and adult learning providers can return to the same model of operation as before the firebreak. Universities can continue to provide a combination of in-person teaching and blended learning.
- Places of worship can resume services.
- All retail businesses can reopen, including close-contact services such as hair dressers/barbers and beauty salons.
- Sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools, can reopen, but the operators must take all reasonable measures to manage risk and maintain physical distancing;
- Entertainment venues can reopen. These include cinemas, bowling alleys, skating rinks, museums, galleries, bingo halls, casinos and amusement arcades, but theatres and concert halls, nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues are still required to be closed.
- Local authority services can resume based on local circumstances.
- Home viewings and home moves are allowed.
- Visits to care homes will be permitted, subject to local circumstances.
- All premises reopening will still be required to take all reasonable measures to minimise the risks of spreading the virus. This includes measures to ensure two-metre social distancing is observed, as well as other measures, such as restricting numbers, implementing one-way systems or limiting the time people can remain on the premises.
The First Minister said there had been a “consistent reduction” in the coronavirus incidence rate per 100,000 people in Wales since the start of the firebreak, as well as a “consistent fall” in the percentage of tests coming back positive.
The ‘R’ number, which is the average number of people someone with the virus will infect, is currently between 0.9 and 1.2 in Wales. If the rate is below 1, then it indicates the rate of transmission is decreasing, whereas if it’s higher than one, it indicates transmission is on the up.
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But Mr Drakeford warned “the behaviour of a selfish minority is putting everyone else at risk”, and said police forces across Wales had responded to more than 1,000 coronavirus-related incidents since the firebreak was lifted.
He also said the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in Wales is the equivalent of 50 full hospital wards.
Meanwhile, From Saturday (November 21), Wales’ first mass coronavirus testing programme will be rolled out in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, which at one point had the highest rate of coronavirus in the UK.
Caerphilly County Borough residents who work in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough will be offered tests as part of the programme.
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