Wales postpones changes to Covid restrictions amid Delta variant spread

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Wales is delaying further easing of coronavirus restrictions for four weeks after seeing a spike in cases of the Delta variant of the disease first identified in India.

First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford will make the announcement on Friday and is expected to encourage people to go for their second doses of the vaccine.

The nation is aiming to roll out more than half a million doses over the next four weeks.

A nurse prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen
A nurse prepares the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, at the West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen (Jacob King/PA)

The change comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that the final stage of England’s lockdown road map – which would have seen all restrictions lift and international travel resume on June 21 – would be delayed until July 19 due to a spike in cases.

Latest figures show there are nearly 490 cases of the Delta variant in Wales, while more than four out five new Covid-19 cases are the Delta variant, according to the Welsh Government.

Two-thirds of these are not linked to travel or contact with another case, it added.

HEALTH Coronavirus Wales
Deaths involving Covid-19 in England & Wales. Credit: (PA Graphics)

Mr Drakeford said: “In the space of just a few short weeks, the Delta variant has entered Wales and quickly spread throughout the country. There is sustained and accelerating transmission, not just in north and south-east Wales but in all parts of Wales.

“It is now the most dominant variant in new cases in Wales. We are once again facing a serious public health situation.

“We have the lowest coronavirus rates in the UK and the highest vaccination rates for first doses. A four-week delay in relaxing restrictions could help to reduce the peak number of daily hospital admissions by up to half, at a time when the NHS is very busy supporting all our healthcare needs – not just treating coronavirus.”

Rules in Wales were last relaxed on June 7 and said outdoor events with up to 10,000 people were allowed to resume and other events, such as concerts, football matches and sporting activities, could recommence for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people sitting.

The regulations will be reviewed again on July 15 after being reviewed earlier this week.

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Some technical amendments are being made to the regulations in the meantime to make them easier for people to understand.

These include the number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership reception or wake, organised by a business in an indoors regulated premise, such as a hotel, will be determined by the size of the venue and a risk assessment.

Other amendments are small grassroots music and comedy venues will also be able to operate on the same basis as hospitality venues and primary school children in the same school contact group or bubble will be able to stay overnight in a residential outdoor education centre.

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