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Present

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

Via video link

  • Rebecca Evans MS
  • Lesley Griffiths MS
  • Eluned Morgan MS
  • Kirsty Williams MS
  • Hannah Blythyn MS
  • Jane Hutt MS
  • Julie Morgan MS

Apologies

  • Julie James MS
  • Jeremy Miles MS
  • Ken Skates MS
  • Lee Waters MS
  • Dafydd Elis Thomas 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 (via video link)
  • Madeleine Brindley, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Alex Bevan, Special Adviser (via video link)
  • Dan Butler, 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)
  • Dylan Hughes, First Legislative Counsel (via video link)
  • Neil Buffin, Senior lawyer, Director’s Office (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 invited the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to provide an update on virus transmission rates and whether there was headroom to further relax the restrictions. 
  4. Cabinet had been provided with key indicators on the current health conditions, which included data on the number of new daily cases being reported, the ‘R’ rate, hospital admissions and infection rate ‘doubling’ time. This information had been confirmed with the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre. All of this demonstrated that circumstances were favourable to continue to ease some of the restrictions. 
  5. However, there was a need to continue to monitor the situation, particularly given the increase in cases around the Wrexham area. A rising number of confirmed cases had been detected at the Wrexham Maelor hospital and all staff and patients were being actively tested for the virus. 
  6. The increase in cases appeared to be linked to the earlier outbreak at the food processing plant and subsequent hospital admissions.
  7. Ministers noted that a spate of infections amongst a Gypsy and Traveller community near Welshpool was well under control.
  8. It was reported that a TAC report on testing, which would be published later that day, demonstrated that more needed to be done to improve turnaround times. 
  9. There would also be a need to monitor the international situation, particularly the increased cases being reported in Spain, Germany and Belgium, and establish what had been the cause of the new outbreaks.

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

  1. The First Minister advised Cabinet that, as the CMO had indicated conditions were favourable to lift some further restrictions, the key messages for the press conference on Friday would relate to the re-opening of the economy. Some of the headroom would be used to allow further premises to open with the relevant mitigations to minimise the risk of transmission, along with ongoing actions to resume healthcare services.
  2. The majority of the headroom would be used to gradually and cautiously relax some of the restrictions on people meeting each other. 
  3. It was recognised that the progress that had been made so far was heavily dependent on everyone following the guidance to maintain social distance rules. However, as there was likely to be a resurgence of the pandemic in the Autumn and Winter, businesses and other organisations that had reopened would need to follow the relevant guidance on social distancing and other mitigations. There would be a need to enforce those obligations and close premises that did not comply, in order to continue to protect those businesses and individuals that were adhering to the regulations.
  4. The Government would make it clear in its communications that it would be enforcing these regulations.
  5. It was reported that the re-opening of the outdoor hospitality sector generally went well, with South Wales Police reporting only a small number of enforcement issues.
  6. Cabinet confirmed that indoor hospitality, bowling alleys, auction houses and bingo halls, along with outdoor theatres, could re-open from 3rd August, providing social distancing requirements were in place. In addition, from this date, indoor play areas could re-open, which would be in line with proposals for the relaxation on social distancing for children aged between 0 and 11.
  7. Ministers also agreed that the First Minister should signal on Friday that a decision would be made the following week on the potential reopening of swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas and indoor leisure centres, subject to the usual caveats about the conditions remaining favourable.
  8. In terms of easing restrictions on seeing family and friends, it was proposed that children between the ages of 0 and 11 would no longer need to maintain physical distancing between each other or with adults, both indoors and outdoors. This reflected the guidance for schools, and was based on evidence about significantly lower vulnerability to, and transmission of, the virus amongst younger children. 
  9. The restrictions on meeting others outdoors would be relaxed. This would allow up to 30 people, adults and children, to meet outdoors providing physical distancing was maintained. Organised activities would still need to undertake risk assessments. It would not be feasible to put in place a licencing regime to allow greater numbers to meet.
  10. Cabinet agreed with these proposals.
  11. In terms of relaxing the restrictions indoors, there would be a need to be mindful of the reports from England which indicated around 70% of outbreaks had been linked to transmission within residential dwellings. This was also evident from the outbreak in Melbourne, Australia. This demonstrated that indoor settings, where mitigations were not followed effectively, were a significant risk.
  12. Ministers were asked to consider whether to increase the size of extended households and to allow people to meet indoors where social distancing could be maintained.
  13. Cabinet considered the risks and concluded that, given the likelihood of a second wave later in the year, it would be prudent to relax the rules as much as possible at this stage while conditions were most favourable, which would also make it easier to enforce further lockdowns.
  14. It was agreed that the regulations should be changed to allow four households or two extended households to merge into one larger extended unit and to allow two or more households to meet indoors, providing social distancing was exercised. People could also meet with others indoors in premises that were regulated. 
  15. Ministers confirmed that there was not enough headroom at this stage to allow casinos, theatres, concert and conference halls, along with nightclubs and skating rinks to open.
  16. Cabinet agreed that officials should proceed in line with the comments made by Ministers.

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