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Present

  • Rt. Hon. Mark Drakeford MS (Chair)
  • Vaughan Gething MS 

Via video link

  • Rebecca Evans MS
  • Lesley Griffiths MS 
  • Julie James MS
  • Jeremy Miles MS 
  • Eluned Morgan MS
  • Ken Skates MS
  • Hannah Blythyn MS 
  • Julie Morgan MS 
  • Dafydd Elis Thomas MS

Apologies

  • Kirsty Williams MS 
  • Jane Hutt MS 
  • Lee Waters MS

Officials

  • Shan Morgan, Permanent Secretary (via video link)
  • Des Clifford, Director General Office of the First Minister 
  • Will Whiteley, Head of Cabinet Division
  • Toby Mason, Head of Strategic Communications (via video link)
  • Jane Runeckles, Special Adviser 
  • Alex Bevan, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Ian Butler, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Kate Edmunds, Special Adviser (via video link)  
  • Paul Griffiths, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Clare Jenkins, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Andrew Johnson, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Gareth Williams, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Mitch Theaker, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Tom Woodward, Special Adviser (via video link) 
  • Christopher W Morgan, Cabinet Secretariat (minutes)
  • Damian Roche, Cabinet Secretariat 
  • Jonathan Scourfield, Specialist Policy Adviser (via video link)
  • Dewi Knight, Specialist Adviser for Education Reform (via video link)
  • Tracey Burke, Director General, Education and Public Services (via video link)
  • Andrew Goodall, Director General Health (via video link)
  • Andrew Slade, Director General ESNR (via video link)
  • Frank Atherton, CMO (via video link)
  • Simon Brindle, Director COVID-19 project team (via video link)
  • Helen Lentle, Director Legal Services (via video link)
  • Tom Smithson, COVID-19 project team (via video link)
  • Nick Batey, COVID-19 project team (via video link)
  • Jo Trott, COVID-19 project team (via video link)
  • Christopher Stevens, COVID-19 project team (via video link)

Item 1: Three week review of Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations – Update from the CMO

  1. The focus of the Cabinet meeting was the latest 21 day review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations and other lockdown measures. In accordance with the Regulations, the imposition or continuation of a requirement or restriction had to satisfy three conditions. 
  2. The Regulations were for the purpose of preventing, protecting against, controlling or providing a public health response to the incidence, spread of infection or contamination. There must be a threat to public health and the restrictions had to be proportionate in what they were intending to achieve.
  3. The First Minister indicated that the planned reopening of schools would be the priority for available headroom, which would place constraints on the ability to relax further measures.  The First Minister invited the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to provide an update on virus transmission rates and his views on the available headroom.
  4. Cabinet had been provided with key indicators on the current health conditions, including data on the number of new daily cases being reported, which was between 15 and 24. The ‘R’ rate was between 0.8 and 1.1 and COVID-19 related hospital admission rates had stabilised. The outbreak associated with the Wrexham Maelor hospital was now under control. It was noted that the ‘R’ rate became less reliable as an indicator as the rates of infection continued to decline and a suite of indicators should be taken into account when assessing the available headroom.
  5. There were sporadic suspected cases being reported by GPs in Wales, averaging around 2.9 in every 100,000 people. The highest had been in Wrexham, where there were 12.5 cases in 100,000. The positivity rate against total tests was now in the region of half of one percent. 
  6. In addition to Test Trace and Protect and additional surveillance measures in place to combat future outbreaks, the Government had launched that day a Coronavirus Control Plan for Wales. It set out how the people of Wales and organisations across Wales would work together to manage the risks of COVID-19, while preparing for the autumn and winter.
  7. There was some headroom for further controlled easing in addition to preparing for schools to reopen but there was a need to be mindful of what was happening elsewhere in the UK. The increase of cases in England was cause for concern. In addition, there was a need to monitor cases in Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the daily increase was more than in Wales. The increase in cases in Northern Ireland had been linked to food processing plants, whereas, the additional cases in Scotland were linked to the hospitality industry.

Item 2: Three week review of Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations – review of lockdown restrictions

  1. Cabinet confirmed that from Saturday 22nd August, up to four households, or two extended households, could merge into a larger extended household. In addition, indoor meals for up to 30 people, following a wedding, civil partnership or funeral, would be allowed. This would apply to open premises, and guidance would be in place to set out what conditions would apply, such as social distancing, contact tracing and no dancing. These easements had been signalled the previous week.
  2. In terms of other weeks within the review period, Cabinet agreed that the four Casino operators in Wales could open from 31st August. Industry guidance was in place and adaptations were needed to ensure that the businesses took into account Welsh specific rules.
  3. It was also recommended that small outdoor events of up to 100 hundred people should be piloted to help consider how larger gatherings might be managed. Three types of events had been identified: an outdoor theatre event organised by Theatr Clwyd; small scale car rallies at Ynys Môn and Pembrey race tracks; and the ‘Return to Racing competition at Pembrey organised by Welsh Triathlon. All events would be required to comply with Test, Trace and Protect.
  4. Cabinet agreed with these proposals.  
  5. It was noted that there were currently no plans to recommence any major sporting events in Wales. There would be a need to consider the outcome of the pilots in England before considering whether to introduce specific evaluations in Wales.
  6. It was important to ensure that the Regulations were being enforced correctly and, over the next three week review period, Local Authorities would be providing reports on how they had responded to their new enforcement powers.
  7. There were a number of businesses and services that would not be covered by proposed easements. These included: theatres, concert halls, night clubs, sexual entertainment venues; and skating rinks. Ministers noted that even though some concert venues would be able to enforce similar restrictions as casinos in a practical sense, they could not do so while remaining commercially viable.
  8. Cabinet noted that officials would take into account comments made by Ministers and a note of what had been finally agreed would be circulated on Thursday afternoon.

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