UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a warning that the effects of a third wave of COVID-19 in Europe will ‘wash up on our shores’.
Cases of the virus have been growing on the continent, with France and Poland among countries to have imposed tougher restrictions recently.
In the UK, the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated against the virus is much higher, though there are some concerns that the reopening of society more in the coming weeks could lead to a surge in cases.
Government ministers have indicated that as it stands, England remains on course for its roadmap out of lockdown.
Under the current timetable set out by Boris Johnson last month, all legal restrictions related to coronavirus will be lifted in England on 21 June – however, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has said the timetable is ‘very optimistic’.
Speaking to BBC Wales, Mr Drakeford said that he hoped that life ‘will be closer to normal’ in the summer, though added that he didn’t expect life to completely return to normal this year. He said;
“I want to be honest and realistic with people in Wales, rather than simply trying to paint the most optimistic picture that I can.
“I think some of the suggestions that the UK government are making seem to be at the very optimistic end of the spectrum and not fully to take into account the advice we are having of the risks that will still be with us in the rest of this calendar year.”
The devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are managing their easing of lockdown measures separate from the UK Government in England. Previously, Scotland and Wales have been significantly more cautious than England when easing lockdown measures.
While Drakeford has been praised by some for his cautious approach in Wales, some have criticised his Government for not offering a clear route out of lockdown. Wales currently has the lowest prevalence of the virus in the UK, having a seven-day case rate of approximately 42 cases per 100,000 people.
While the Welsh Government has set out some possible dates for the easing of measures, it has not published a full plan for the easing of restrictions, such as in England. The leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies has repeatedly called on the Welsh Government to issue a road map, saying there needs to be some ‘cautious optimism.’
On Monday, a further 5,342 cases of Coronavirus were reported in the UK, while 17 new deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test were also reported.