First Minister Mark Drakeford MS
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 require that a review of the coronavirus restrictions is undertaken every three weeks. The most recent review was due by 16 September.
Overall transmission of Covid-19 has increased across Wales since the last review as has the percentage of people testing positive. Evidence continues to indicate that the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has been weakened by the vaccination programme. It has not been broken and the number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 has risen steadily over recent weeks, as wider pressures on our health and care system are also increasing.
The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) has indicated we are entering a period of uncertainty as schools and universities go back and more people return to the workplace. This is all happening at the same time when we are starting to see vaccine immunity beginning to wane.
We are able to remain at alert level zero but the rise in cases and the current uncertainty mean we must all redouble our efforts to do the simple things which keep us all safe.
These include being fully vaccinated; getting tested and self-isolating if we have symptoms of coronavirus; meeting others outdoors wherever possible and keeping indoor areas well ventilated; keeping our distance when we can; washing our hands regularly; wearing a face covering in indoor public places and on public transport, and working from home whenever possible.
The autumn booster vaccination campaign started yesterday – frontline NHS staff in North Wales were the first to receive the booster vaccine. Tomorrow, care home residents and staff in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area will receive the booster and the roll out will be extended throughout Wales on Monday.
In line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), all frontline health and care staff, everyone living and working in care homes, everyone over 50 and all those with underlying health conditions aged 16 and over will be eligible for a booster at least six months after they received their second dose.
Letters will also start being delivered to 12 to 15-year-olds next week, inviting them to be vaccinated and we will redouble our efforts to encourage those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take up the offer.
Vaccines remain our strongest defence from the virus.
We will be working with businesses and trade unions about the need to review their risk assessments and, if necessary, strengthen the reasonable measures they are taking to help reduce the risk of transmission. These might include, for example, more public announcements or better signage about the requirement to wear face coverings in retail or on public transport. We will also be highlighting the importance of continuing to permit staff to work from home where possible.
SAGE has advised that it is important to act early to slow down a growing epidemic. In addition to the areas set out above we will also amend the regulations to require people to show the NHS COVID Pass to enter the following venues and events from Monday 11 October:
- Nightclubs and similar venues.
- Indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people, where people are mixing closely for prolonged periods.
- Outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people, where people will be mixing closely for prolonged periods.
- Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
The COVID Pass has been used in Wales for some events over the summer and some premises require the pass to be shown as a condition of entry. It allows people to prove they have either been fully vaccinated or to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test.
We want to support venues to stay open and enable events to continue taking place, particularly as many have only recently reopened.
As we head into winter, let’s all work together to keep Wales safe.