Posted: Fri 14th May 2021

Indian variant issues in north England giving Welsh Government ‘pause for thought’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, May 14th, 2021

First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm Wales’ next steps out of lockdown today, however has said some planned relaxations have been paused due to the concerns around the so called Indian variant.

The First Minister warned that the new Indian variant is giving the Welsh government “pause for thought” and will look to scientific advisors on whether further easements can move ahead safely.

There are 1,313 cases of the variant in the UK, up from the 520 recorded the previous week. The number of cases of the Indian variant has increased sharply in the past few weeks in particularly in parts of north-west of England.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales this morning, Drakeford said of Wales: “The prevalence rates below 10 per 100,000, for every day of the last week and that’s for the first time for a very long time.”

“Positivity rates below one percent, the impact on our hospitals is continuing to ease.”

But he warned: “As we emerge from Coronavirus, we do need to continue to do things in that careful step by step way, that we have throughout the pandemic.”

“We’ve been talking a lot over the last 24 hours in the Welsh Government about the new Indian variant that is emerging across the border in England in particular, it’s giving us pause for thought.”

“We are waiting to see the advice from SAGE and our own scientific advisors to see whether some further easements that we were considering, whether we can move ahead with those safely, or whether we have to pause them a bit longer while we get more evidence of the risks that that variant may be about to pose.”

The First Minister pointed to the impact of the Kent variant in Wales, he said: “When it came into Wales from the north west of England, it spread right across Wales causing enormous pressures on our health service.”

“One of the big pockets of the Indian variant is once again in the north west of England, and that border is so porous between the north east of Wales and north west of England.”

“We absolutely have to attend carefully to what is happening there, there are 17 cases of Indian variants in Wales yesterday, all of them being managed successfully by local public health teams.”

“But they were over 700 cases in England and that number had grown steeply over just a few days.”

“It is simply sensible, that we watch very carefully what is happening there, because this is a virus that has no sense at all of where geographical boundaries may lie, and it could be having an impact here in Wales, so that’s why we will watch the science, take our decisions in the light of it.”

Changes from Monday 17 May. 

Mark Drakeford said that from Monday: “Indoor hospitality will reopen, holiday accommodation can reopen fully, entertainment venues can reopen, visitor attractions can reopen and the number of people taking part in organised indoor and outdoor activities will rise to 30 people indoors and 50 people in organised outdoor activities.”

“So a very significant package of easements from Monday possible because of all that hard work we’ve done together to put us in this good position.”

“People from Wales will be able to travel abroad from Monday, May 17 to those countries on the UK government’s ‘green list’ and won’t need to quarantine on their return.”

However, he said, “the advice is unless you need to travel, then it is much safer to stay, enjoy everything that we have to offer in Wales.”

“This is the year to think about your own safety and that of other people enjoy Wales, It’s a fantastic place with so much to offer.”

In terms of indoor hospitality reopening, the first minister said: “We continue to expect venues to take all reasonable measures to keep people safe from Coronavirus, unless they do, then people are not going to be willing to return.

There is an issue of confidence on the part of the public, as we reopen parts of the economy, people will want to know that those venues have done everything that needs to be done to keep them safe.”

“I think our hospitality sector has done a fantastic job, it did so last year, it’s doing so again now.”

“Provided conditions continue to improve, then we will offer further easements that will allow more people to be able to visit those venues safely.”

From Monday 24 May, a paper-based vaccination status will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof.

However, the Welsh Government continues to advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.

If public health conditions remain positive, the next three-week review will consider:

  • Further changes to meeting people in private homes;
  • Increasing the number of people who can meet outdoors and the number of people who can attend organised activities and events, including wedding receptions, to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors;
  • Permitting larger-scale events to take place indoors and outdoors.




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