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Next stage of lockdown easing to be announced in Wales

Next stage of lockdown easing to be announced in Wales

The next stage of the easing of coronavirus restrictions in Wales is set to be announced later today.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford will deliver a statement to the Senedd after 3pm regarding an updated version of the country's Coronavirus Control Plan. It is expected that in his statement, Mr Drakeford will set out any lockdown easements for the near future, and how the country can move to a new alert level zero with few legal coronavirus restrictions in place.

Easements to restrictions are expected to be announced, though it is thought that easements are likely to be more cautious and not go quite as far as the plans for ending almost all coronavirus restrictions in England from 19 July.

Throughout much of the pandemic, Wales has kept stricter restrictions than England and has been more cautious to return freedoms to the public.

On Sunday, the Welsh Government confirmed that the wearing of face coverings on public transport and in health and social care settings will remain mandatory while coronavirus remains a threat to public health. This rule differs from the policy in England, which will make the wearing of face coverings advised but not required by law from 19 July. The Welsh Government has indicated that face coverings could also be required in other settings, and it is possible that an update may be provided on this later today.

It is expected that ministers will have been reviewing rules on the number of people allowed to mix indoors in private homes, and these rules could be relaxed soon.

Wales' latest 7-day coronavirus case rate was 147 cases per 100,000 people (as of 8/7) - an increase of 32.5% compared to the previous 7-day period, but the lowest rate of the four UK nations. 

In contrast, Scotland's latest case rate was 369.6 cases per 100,000 people - England had a rate of 328.9 cases per 100,000 people and Northern Ireland had a rate of 181.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Cases of COVID-19 have been rising rapidly recently, though it is thought that ministers will try to make lockdown easements if they feel there is enough data to support it, with concerns that unlocking restrictions in the Autumn or late summer could be more dangerous than doing so now.

 

Mr Drakeford is expected to address the Senedd after 3pm today, and then deliver a press conference after 5:15pm.

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