Stay at home restrictions set to remain in place – ‘headroom’ used for schools return
Wales’ first minister is expected to announce today that the strict stay at home message will remain in place for another three weeks.
The current level four restrictions were introduced before Christmas due to rapidly rising cases.
However the seven day average across Wales has dropped from 558.6 per 100,000 at the end of December 2020 to 83.7 per 100,000 yesterday.
From next week those aged between three and seven will return to the classroom after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that the existing “headroom” will be used to get children back to school.
In Wrexham students will not return until the end of next week at the earliest due to the infection rates locally – which although have decreased in recent weeks – remain at 117.7 per 100,000.
At this afternoon’s Welsh Government press conference Mr Drakeford will announce that the stay-at-home restrictions will remain in place in Wales for a further three weeks as the youngest children start return to school.
The first minister is also expected to talk about encouraging green shoots of recovery and look ahead to the next review when the Welsh Government will be considering if all primary pupils and some older students can return to schools and colleges from Monday 15 March, if the public health situation continues to improve.
The next review of the regulations in three weeks will consider the restrictions around non-essential retail and close contact services.
No significant changes are expected to be unveiled, with Health Minister Vaughan Gething stating earlier this week that the Welsh Government were looking at whether any “small changes” could be made.
However the first minister has been urged to be guided by “data not dates” by Plaid Cymru Leader, Adam Price.
He added that he hoped the Government would put a sharp focus on re-introducing household bubbles in response to the increased loneliness and isolation as a result of current restrictions.
Mr Price said: “The picture seems to be improving by the week and everyone involved in the effort to drive down the rates of transmission should be commended.
“However, we’re not there quite yet in terms of being ready to relax restrictions on a national level. Infection rates remain high and the headroom we have remains low. At every step, action should be driven by data not dates.
“We cannot ignore the mental health crisis which has been brought about as a result of the pandemic. It’s vital that everything possible is done to enable gyms to be among the first facilities to reopen.
“Loneliness and isolation are also a real challenge for many people, and we hope that the government will put a sharp focus on when and how it will be safe to return to extended household bubbles.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, has called for the Welsh Government to extend the business rates “holiday” to help with the covid-19 recovery.
He said: “It’s important ministers provide businesses with a path to reopening, and whilst they will be unable to provide guarantees, rough timescales would be beneficial to many in the retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors who are planning their survival.
“And given the likelihood of continued restrictions on these sectors into the spring, Welsh Conservatives also want Labour ministers to confirm that the £650 million of extra coronavirus support announced by the UK Government for Wales on Monday, will be used to save Welsh jobs including an extension the business rates holiday into next year
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