The further easing of coronavirus rules in Wales is to be put on hold for four weeks amid concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford will officially make the announcement in a press conference on Friday, saying that it will help boost protection against the Delta variant – which currently makes up more than four out of five new COVID-19 cases in the country.
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.”
Almost 490 cases of the variant have been identified in Wales according to the latest figures. The variant is more transmissible than previous variants of the virus, but existing vaccines are still effective against it to a significant extent.
Wales has already offered a first vaccine dose to all of its over 18s and will now aim to speed up second doses over the next four weeks. People in Wales are being urged to take up their invitation for their vaccine appointment and to also ensure they receive their second dose.
When confirming the delay to the easing of restrictions, Mr Drakeford is expected to say that the delay will help to reduce the number of hospital admissions over the coming weeks.
Pilot events, including a number of designated sport and theatrical pilot events, will continue as planned despite the delay to restrictions being eased. Rules on weddings, receptions and wakes will also be slightly amended so that attendee limits are set by each individual venue on the basis of risk assessments.
Wales’ national coronavirus case rate has been rising recently, though remains relatively low at 23 cases per 100,000 people.
The pause on any further restrictions being lifted in Wales comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay to England’s lockdown easing on Monday.