In a recent statement, Mark Drakeford has confirmed his decision to not make any relaxations in Coronavirus SOPs in light of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning in Wales. The First Minister said that Wales is two or three weeks behind Scotland and England in case numbers, and has suspended any Covid relaxations for the upcoming four weeks.
With a ‘particularly sharp rise’ in cases amongst people under 25 years of age, the government plans on vaccinating at least 500,000 more people, most of which will be second dosages. The minister urged the public to stay alert, saying that the main goal is to ‘do everything we can to prevent a lockdown again’.
Drakeford has, however, given the go-ahead to minor changes to wedding reception rules, with venues being allowed to host as many people as they safely can. With Wales’ covid infection rate being 23.6 per 100,000 people (compared with 10 weeks ago), there is a persistent increase in covid cases, with Conservatives calling for more support for businesses and individuals who are self-isolating.
The positivity rate has also nearly doubled, coming back as a concerning 2.4%. In a press conference, Drakeford indicated that the ‘UK is now in the pre-peak stage of a third wave of the pandemic’. Although the situation is not dire enough to impose a lockdown, the first minister said that it was necessary to pause relaxations in Covid restrictions, saying they 'don't want to add fresh risk into what has become a more risky context.'
Meanwhile, the government is turning their focus to strengthening the vaccination programme, with a ‘new emphasis on double doses’ in the next four weeks. “The more people we can vaccinate the stronger the defence will be, and the more certain we will become that we don't need to put anything in reverse,” Drakeford explained.