Wales delays lockdown easing by four weeks after surge of Delta variant cases

NEWBRIDGE, WALES - FEBRUARY 02: A man wearing his Welsh Face mask ready to receive the Pfizer Biontech Vaccine on February 02, 2021 in Newbridge, Wales. As of Sunday, more than 400,000 people in Wales had had their first jab, or about 13% of Wales' population. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

More than four out five new Covid-19 cases in Wales are the Delta variant (Picture: Getty)

Wales will pause the easing of coronavirus restrictions for four weeks following a surge in cases of the Delta variant.

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to encourage people to go and get their second jabs when he makes the announcement on Friday.

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

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.

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.’

Cases of the Delta variant are spreading across Wales. In the space a few weeks, cases have been confirmed in all parts of the country.

We have reviewed all the evidence and will pause changes to the rules for 4 weeks.

More info in the thread below⬇️

— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) June 17, 2021

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 04: A man and woman wearing face masks and walking a dog walk past a souvenir shop on February 4, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Wales went into a Level 4 lockdown from midnight on December 19. All non-essential shops have closed and people have been advised to stay home in a bid to curb infection rates. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

The regulations will be reviewed again on July 15 (Picture: Getty)

CARDIFF, WALES - APRIL 12: Shoppers queue outside Primark from 7am as non-essential retail reopens on April 12, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Lockdown restrictions have been eased further today with non-essential retail reopening in England and Wales after remaining closed for three months during the latest Covid-19 lockdown. In England outdoor hospitality will reopen today and in Wales from April 26. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Wales is aiming to roll out more than half a million doses over the next four weeks (Picture: Getty)

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.

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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