Mark Drakeford: “We are on the final lap of emerging from the pandemic”
The first minister has said Wales is on the final lap of the pandemic but warned we can’t rule out “further unpleasant surprises” ahead.
From this weekend there’ll be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet either in private homes in public places or at events.
Businesses such as nightclubs that have had to remain closed throughout the pandemic will be able to reopen.
Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served, but they will continue to be required in most indoor public places and public transport.
Also, people who are doubly vaccinated will no longer be required to self isolate, if they come into contact with somebody who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
During a press conference this afternoon, Mark Drakeford said Wales was on the “final lap of emerging from the pandemic, provided we do not see further unexpected turns in the course of the virus.”
But he warned, “we cannot possibly make the assumption that the virus might not yet have further unpleasant surprises for us, that’s been the history of the 18 months.”
“Were a new variant to emerge in which vaccination was less effective than we have it today, then inevitably we would have to face the consequences of that and take measures to address it.”
“While things remain as they are, while we all go on making the contribution we can, I think we can have some confidence that today’s latest steps out of Coronavirus put us on that path beyond it and into the future.”
Earlier this morning the first minister said he didn’t expect to return to the sort of restrictions we have seen in Wales over the past 18 months.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, he said: “The success of our vaccination programme really does mean that the link between falling ill on the one hand and being so ill that you have to be in a hospital has been really eroded. It’s not been eliminated, but it’s been radically eroded.”
“I don’t expect that we will have to return to the sorts of restrictions that we saw at the beginning of this year.”
“While the vaccine programme goes on giving us that defence, I don’t expect that we will have to return to the sorts of restrictions that we saw at the beginning of this year.”
“But nobody can rule out the surprises, the awful surprises that this virus has had up its sleeve, and, if there were to be a sudden change for the worse that we can’t anticipate, then, of course, the Welsh Government would act again to protect the lives of people in Wales.”
Wales will move to alert level zero at 6am on 7 August, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations in Wales. At alert level zero:
- There will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events.
- Businesses which were required to be closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs.
- Premises which are open to the public and workplaces will have more flexibility about which reasonable measures they take to minimise the risk of coronavirus. But these should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances.
- Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served, but will continue to be required in most indoor public places.
Also on 7 August (from 00.01), adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone who has coronavirus.
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