First Minister Mark Drakeford has refused to rule out Wales entering another period of lockdown, saying there is still “a job to be done” in the battle against coronavirus.

Speaking on Sunday morning, Mr Drakeford said it would not be “anytime soon” Wales could guarantee the latest lockdown would be the last and that it could be some time before hospitality re-opens indoors.

Travel restrictions across Wales were lifted on Saturday allowing people to travel freely across the country for the first time since December when a ‘stay at home’ rule was implemented five days before Christmas due to a surge in cases.

That was lifted two weeks ago and replaced with a ‘stay local rule’, but this weekend represents the first time people in Wales have been allowed to travel far and wide without an essential reason in more than three months.

While the hope is that Wales’ current low rate of infection (37.8 per 100,000 people, based on the seven days up to March 23) remains low, on Sunday First Minister Mark Drakeford could not rule out the possibility of another lockdown if the current situation changes.

Appearing on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning Mr Drakeford was asked if he could guarantee the people of Wales that the ongoing lockdown would indeed be the last, he said that nobody in his position would be able to do that “anytime soon”.

He added: “We see what’s happening on the continent of Europe, we know about the new variants that are being discovered around the globe – there’s a job of work still to be done in making sure that coronavirus is genuinely in the rear view mirror.”

You can now get all of the need-to-know news sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our free WalesOnline newsletter.

It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.

Asked directly about the reopening of pubs in Wales and hospitality in general, the First Minister said it could still be some time before people can enjoy their favourite drink inside a public house.

“I’m hoping that by the end of April people will be able to enjoy outdoor hospitality,” he said.

“Meeting indoors we know is always more dangerous and that is likely to have to wait until May.

“I’ll be setting out on Thursday a prospectus for the whole of April and into May. It will give the [hospitality] sector the certainty that it is looking for but this is an inherently uncertain time.

“At the moment things are heading in the right direction, but we know how quickly this virus can change and I’m not prepared to give people false assurances too far into the future.

Mr Drakeford didn’t rule out the introduction of so-called ‘vaccine passports’ but said they presented some “very big practical and ethical challenges”. He said he spoke to Cabinet Officer Michael Gove and the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland earlier this week about the matter of vaccine certification, adding that it was an issue that all four nations should work on together.

Regarding Wales’ Covid-19 death rate, which stands at 196.4 deaths per 100,000 since the pandemic began, Mr Drakeford said: “There is no doubt at all that when we look back, knowing what we know now, there are things that we might have done differently but at every point of our handling of the virus we have taken the best scientific advice that we can.

“We’ve made the decision, the difficult decision sometimes, to protect people here in Wales.

“Some parts of Wales have had a torrid time and when we look back we will look to see what we might have been able to do differently, knowing what we knew then rather than looking back and thinking about what we know now.

“When we look right back to the very beginning, if we had known about the speed at which this virus can be transmitted, we would have taken some actions earlier than we did. I think that would have been true across the United Kingdom.

“We’ve had no more lockdowns in Wales than anywhere else, we’ve generally gone into them earlier and gone into them deeper because that’s the advice that we’ve been given by SAGE and our chief medical officer – that you should act early and that you should act decisively and that’s what we have tried to do in Wales.”

It comes as no new coronavirus related deaths were reported for the third time this week on Sunday.

According to the data published by Public Health Wales on Sunday March 28, there were no Covid-19 related deaths in the latest 24-hour period (up to Saturday morning). This follows no new deaths reported on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Read More
Related Articles

Read More
Related Articles

There have been 171 new positive cases in the last 24-hour period, which brings the total number of people to have tested positive for coronavirus in Wales since the outbreak began to 209,066.

The total number of people to have died in the country within a month of testing positive for the virus now stands at 5,505.

The infection rate across Wales is now 37.8 per 100,000 people, based on the seven days up to March 23 – the rate is down slightly from 38.5 on Saturday. Meanwhile, the percentage of tests coming back with positive results is now 2.8%, below the key benchmark of 5%. Read the full story here.


Source link