Posted: Fri 11th Sep 2020

First Minister coronavirus update: “Past few weeks have been a setback”

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Sep 11th, 2020

First minister Mark Drakeford has announced a series of measures this afternoon in a bid the stop the spread of coronavirus.

Face coverings will become mandatory in indoor public places across Wales from Monday as rules are tightened to prevent a fresh coronavirus crisis.

A new limit on the number of people who can meet indoors as evidence shows indoor gatherings are the main source of transmission for the virus in Wales.

People will also continue to be encouraged to work from home wherever they can to limit person-to-person contact and local authorities will be given new powers to shut down premises and events on public health grounds.

The latest changes will come into effect on Monday (September 14) amid an increase in cases of coronavirus nationwide and the emergence of a number of hotspot areas, particularly in the South Wales Valleys.

During a press conference in Cardiff held following the 8th review of lockdown measures in Wales, Mr Drakeford said.

After many weeks of being in decline in the Wales-wide new case rate has reached 20 per 100,000 people today.

This is the rate at which quarantine requirements for example, are introduced when people return to Wales from countries in other parts of the world.

It indicates that there is a serious risk of the virus spreading more widely once again.”

“That’s why in this review period, it has been a signal to us that we have to focus on tightening restrictions across Wales, so that once again, we can work together to prevent cases from rising even higher and so prevent the problem from worsening further as well.”

Wales is not immune from the spread of coronavirus elsewhere in the United Kingdom as difficulties deepen in other UK nations, we must expect to see an impact here, too.

Now over the last few weeks we are fortunate that we have not seen more people admitted to hospital or an increase in deaths from coronavirus in Wales, but I have to be very clear.

If coronavirus gets a grip again in our communities we will inevitably see an increase in serious illnesses in hospital admissions, and indeed in deaths here in Wales again.

Now the new measures we are introducing today are designed to prevent a new coronavirus crisis here in Wales.

We have, I believe a short window to get ahead of a gathering storm and to help us avoid more draconian measures.

These actions are even more important as schools return to full capacity, and students return to prepare to return to our colleges and universities.

The new measures we are taking fall into four main areas.

We will reinforce our message to people to work from home wherever possible.

It has never been our policy to encourage people to return to their workplaces in Wales if they can continue to work successfully from home, or to work remotely.

Many of you I know will have heard the message across our border to get back to the office, this is not and never has been our message in Wales.

We want people to carry on working from home if they can, and to do so successfully, the fewer people with whom we come into contact, the lower the risk of the virus spreading.

Secondly we wanted to reduce the number of people meeting indoors.

Our test, trace, protect rates system has shown that the main cause of the upsurge in transmission of the virus in recent weeks has become through people meeting other people indoors, it’s been at the heart of the rise in cases in Caerphilly.

To help break the cycle of infection and prevent the spread of coronavirus we will change the rules on meeting indoors, as from Monday, a new limit of six people will be introduced on the numbers who can meet indoors at any one time.

And all six must belong to the same exclusive extended household, extended households which in Wales, can be made up of any four households joining together, but in future for Monday, only six people from that extended household will be able to meet indoors at any one time.

Children under the age of 11 will not be included in our rule of six but as for Monday indoor gatherings of more than six people will be against the law here in Wales.

A third measure that we will take from Monday will be to make face coverings compulsory in Wales in indoor public places such as shops.

There will be exemptions from primary aged children and for people with health conditions.

Let me be clear, people who knowingly and deliberately flout the law in Wales will face fines of up to £1920 pounds for repeat offences.

Finally, as from Monday, we will give local authorities new powers to take action themselves to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Most people in Wales have worked hard and complied with the rules, but a small minority have not done so.

These new powers which come into force on Monday will allow local authorities to close premises or prevent events from happening on public health grounds.

These powers will enable local authorities to move quickly to respond to outbreaks of the virus in their areas when for example a number of cases are linked to a particular premises or as a preventative measure, when there is a high risk of outbreaks.

Now I said at the start of this review that the period has produced more bad news and good about the position in Wales but we continue to plan for better days ahead.

Over the course of the next three weeks we will learn the lessons from the three pilot events which have already taken place with small audiences at arts and sports events in Wales.

We will work with all sectors of our economy which are yet to resume operations to help them back to business if the conditions are right.

These past few weeks have been a setback but it is not inevitable that things will worsen further if we all work together follow the rules and do the simple things which protect ourselves and our loved ones, then together, we can still keep Wales safe.

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