Posted: Fri 29th Oct 2021

Hospitality businesses in Wales will be put on notice that Covid passports could be introduced in three week

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Oct 29th, 2021

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First Minister Mark Drakeford has said hospitality businesses in Wales will be put on notice that “Covid passports could be introduced in three weeks.”

The latest three-week review of the coronavirus regulations has been carried out this week by Ministers, as a result, Wales will remain at alert level zero but some extra measures will be taken to protect people’s health.

The guidance around self-isolation is changing. Adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people aged five to 17 will be asked to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.

People who are not vaccinated will still have to self-isolate for 10 days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close contacts outside of their household.

Headteachers will be given extra support to quickly put measures in place in their schools if case rates are high locally.

Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.

And, while coronavirus cases remain very high, the Welsh Government intends to extend the use of COVID Pass to theatres, cinemas and concert halls from 15 November.

These are settings where large numbers of people gather indoors, close to each other, for long periods at a time.

But with Wales currently having the highest rates of Covid in the UK, Mark Drakeford said more measures could be brought in in three weeks time including extending the use of Covid passports to pubs, bars and restaurants.

Covid passes – which show whether someone has been fully vaccinated – are to be extended to cinemas, theatres and concert halls from 15 November as part of the plans announced last night.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast Mark Drakeford said: “The situation in Wales is that we have far too many cases of Coronavirus in the community.”

“Vaccination continues to stem the flow of people into hospitals but hospitals are under huge pressure.”

“We want to keep Wales safe and keep Wales open.”

“But we have to do more over the next three weeks to bring those numbers down otherwise we will have to think of a wider repertoire of actions.”

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government “will reinforce the measures we currently have in place for the next three weeks.”

“We all need to make sure we are extracting the maximum impact from all those measures to get those numbers down.”

Wales has the highest Covid rates in the UK, that’s despite having tougher measures in place than England.

The first minister said the higher rates in Wales could be because immunity is waning faster in Wales, he said we “had the most successful vaccination program, we think we may be seeing the waning impact of that earlier than other parts of the United Kingdom.”

“Earlier in the summer we went many, many weeks when Wales had the lowest rates of infection anywhere in the UK, and it may just be that there is a larger reservoir of people that the Delta variant is able to attack driving our numbers up.

According to the latest Welsh Government Technical Advisory Group update, “all of the model scenarios suggest we may have recently surpassed the peak number of COVID-19 cases.”

The advisory group states:  “However there is still uncertainty and in England, there has been a long plateau in case rates so we may see similar in Wales.”

“Cases are falling at the moment and Rt is below 1, but that does not necessarily mean COVID-19 pandemic is close to being over.”

The advisory group warns that while “we have a level of equilibrium based on current levels of vaccinations, susceptibility, restrictions and behaviour, but this can change again quite quickly, for instance as people start mixing more indoors with less ventilation in the colder weather, or changes to isolation behaviour.”

Mark Drakeford said that if cases do not come down in three weeks, the Welsh Government will consider “using our COVID pass (port) in a wider range of locations.”

“We will be asking businesses to redo their risk assessments to add to the actions that they can take.”

“We’ll revisit the measures that we have in place in schools to make sure that we’re taking the maximum action we can to help reduce the spread of infections amongst our young people.” He said.

Asked about what actions his government could implement, he said: “There is a wide range of further measures that we can take. We don’t want to, we’ve managed to keep Wales at alert level zero for many weeks now.”

“But with the numbers, as they are in the community, we have literally 1000s of people every day falling ill with a Coronavirus, they can’t be in work, they can’t be out helping with the economy and we have to do something to bring those numbers down.”

The First Minister will hold a press conference at lunchtime today, he said “What we will be saying today is that the hospitality industry needs to use the next three weeks to prepare for the possibility that COVID passes may have to be introduced in that setting.”

“When I talk about risk assessments in the workplace, I’m talking about the number of people who can work safely from home. Maybe we will have to do more of that.”

“At the moment we don’t have social distancing as a standalone measure in the workplace, we did for many, many months.”

“We can’t bring the numbers down, because of the actions we will take over the next three weeks.”

“We will have to revisit that basket of measures that we draw on previously.”

“If we can’t bring the numbers down, because of the actions we will take over the next three weeks.”

“We will have to revisit that basket of measures that we’ve drawn on previously.”

In response to the latest three-week review, Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George MS said: “All data shows the vaccination programme has severely weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation, and in doing so saved thousands of lives whilst allowing the restoration of freedoms across the country.”

“Case rates across Wales have increased over the past month but hospital admissions in Wales remain at a similar level to those in September, and this provides some encouragement that the talk of lockdowns and new restrictions is somewhat premature, particularly with rates dropping over the past couple of days.”

“The decision by Labour ministers to extend the use of vaccine passports to other areas of society is questionable, particularly as their introduction in Wales was met with much opposition and hasn’t yet delivered a noticeable reduction in the spread of the virus.”

“Saving lives and protecting livelihoods is the responsibility of government and it’s been clear for some time the way out of the pandemic is the vaccination programme, not lockdowns or restrictions.”

“We will have to learn to live with the virus and the priority right now for Labour ministers should be the acceleration of the booster campaign so we can continue to save lives, protect livelihoods, and get Wales on the road to recovery after the challenges of the past 18 months.”

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