Posted: Sat 28th May 2022

Welsh pandemic response ‘paused’ but ‘not abandoned’

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It appears pandemic laws are being put on ice in Wales as the Welsh Government looks to put measures ‘on hold’ but ‘not abandon’ them.

The regulations have been defined by the overall legislation brought in to deal with the pandemic in Wales, and has had wide ranging impacts – from effectively closing the border to allowing some pandemic related planning development decisions to take place without the usual processes.

They have been in place since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

However from Monday 30 May the last restriction – mask wearing in health care settings – will come to an end.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have lived with the legal protections and the Coronavirus regulations for more than two years.

“They have helped to keep us all safe, as we head towards the summer with an improving public health outlook, increasing knowledge of the virus , high vaccination coverage, we can expect that the impact of Coronavirus will now remain steady here in Wales and that will allow us to make some changes to some other key features of our response to the pandemic inside the Welsh Government.

“We will reduce the intense cycle of meetings which are brought together ministers the Chief Medical Officer or scientific advisors and others.

“Ending the regulations also mean that we will no longer need to review those regulations every three weeks and we will not need to come here to hold these press conferences, and we will pause the regular meetings we have held throughout the pandemic with our trusted partners, businesses, trade unions, other public sector organisations to focus on the pandemic itself.

“We will put all these measures on hold however, we’re not simply abandoning them. We are pausing them in case we see another pandemic wave later in the autumn or the winter, as we saw last year and as we saw the year before.

“What we will do is to use this period, the summer period, to prepare for what might happen later in the year. Our aim will be to manage Coronavirus as we would manage any other seasonal illness but we have learned time and again that this virus can behave in ways that are neither expected nor predictable

“Even today, we are currently carefully monitoring two new variants of the Omicron form of COVID they’re called BA.4 four and BA.5.

“Now only a small number of these cases have been detected here in Wales so far, but they have caused large outbreaks elsewhere in the world and the former chief medical officers right across the United Kingdom have warned that these new variants could cause an increase in cases here in the future.

“That is why we are pausing other arrangements we will continue to have a powerful set of measures to keep Coronavirus and its development under our gaze here in Wales and we’ll be ready to bring back testing and contact tracing if we should see an increase in cases and widespread harm”

At the time of writing the formal legislative documents have not been published, so the detail of how the ‘pausing’ will be executed in law is not yet known.

You can view the full briefing and Q&A below:



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