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Present (via Teams)

  • Rt. Hon. Mark Drakeford MS (Chair)
  • Rebecca Evans MS
  • Vaughan Gething MS
  • Lesley Griffiths MS
  • Julie James MS
  • Eluned Morgan MS
  • Ken Skates MS
  • Kirsty Williams MS
  • Jeremy Miles MS
  • Hannah Blythyn MS
  • Jane Hutt MS
  • Julie Morgan MS
  • Dafydd Elis Thomas MS
  • Lee Waters MS

Officials

  • Shan Morgan, Permanent Secretary
  • Des Clifford, Director General Office of the First Minister
  • Carys Evans, Principal Private Secretary First Minister
  • Will Whiteley, Deputy Director, Cabinet Division
  • Toby Mason, Head of Strategic Communications
  • Jane Runeckles, Special Adviser
  • Madeleine Brindley, Special Adviser
  • Alex Bevan, Special Adviser
  • Ian Butler, Special Adviser
  • Kate Edmunds, Special Adviser
  • Sarah Faye, Special Adviser
  • Paul Griffiths, Special Adviser
  • Clare Jenkins, Special Adviser
  • Andrew Johnson, Special Adviser
  • Gareth Williams, Special Adviser
  • Mitch Theaker, Special Adviser
  • Tom Woodward, Special Adviser
  • Christopher W Morgan (minutes)
  • Damian Roche, Cabinet Secretariat
  • Jonathan Scourfield, Specialist Policy Adviser
  • Dewi Knight, Specialist Adviser for Education Reform
  • Tracey Burke, Director General, Education and Public Services
  • Andrew Goodall, Director General, Health
  • Andrew Slade, Director General ESNR
  • Reg Kilpatrick, Director General COVID-19 Crisis Coordination
  • Frank Atherton, CMO
  • Rob Orford, Chief Scientific Adviser for Health
  • Dylan Hughes, First Legislative Counsel
  • Helen Lentle, Director Legal Services
  • Emma Watkins, Deputy Director Economic Policy
  • Duncan Hamer, Deputy Director Business
  • Tom Smithson, Deputy Director Restart
  • Liz Lalley, Deputy Director Recovery
  • Terry Kowal, Senior Legislative Counsel
  • Neil Buffin, Senior Lawyer

Item 1: COVID-19 Alert levels in Wales: A traffic light guide

1.1 The First Minister advised Ministers the purpose of the meeting was to consider proposals within the paper about further restrictions that may need to be put in place over the coming weeks, and specifically after Christmas, to help control the spread of the virus.

1.2 Any restrictions relating to COVID-19 would be 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.

1.3 The First Minister invited the Chief Medical Officer to provide an overview of current transmission rates.

1.4 The number of cases were continuing to rise, with over 2,000 new infections being reported the previous day. There were now around 345 cases within every 100,000 of the population in Wales, which was above the infection rate prior to the start of the recent firebreak. Whereas, in Scotland the rate was just over 100 in 100,000 and in England around 150 in 100,000.

1.5 All local authorities in Wales, apart from Anglesey, were reporting increases in cases, and unfortunately fatalities were rising too. All this was putting pressure on hospitals.

1.6 Notwithstanding the possibility that recently introduced restrictions might bring about some stability, there was a concern that, with the likelihood of more people mixing for the 5 days around Christmas day, there would be a further significant increase in transmission rates during late December and early January. Therefore, it would be important for people to avoid mixing in the 10 days before Christmas.

1.7 The paper set out proposals for 4 Alert Levels in Wales, which mirrored some aspects of the systems in Scotland and England that had been shown to be effective. It was recommended, given the increase in transmission rates outlined by the CMO, that ministers should agree, in principle, that Wales should enter Level 4 restrictions from 28th December if transmission rates had not improved significantly before then. This possibility would need to be communicated to the public and businesses as soon as possible.

1.8 It was noted that there would be discussions with the health service on planning for increases in COVID-19 related admissions.

1.9 Cabinet agreed it was important to make public as soon as possible the further measures under consideration by the government, to provide businesses with the time to prepare and for ministers to set out what financial support would be available. It would also be important to give sufficient notice of the date restrictions would be lifted.

1.10 Ministers would now need to discuss these proposals with their stakeholders, in advance of a further Cabinet discussion the following afternoon, to facilitate an announcement on Friday. 

1.11 In terms of the run up to Christmas, it was reported that 2 local authorities, Caerphilly and RCT, had decided to close schools from Wednesday 16th December. The Thursday and Friday of that week would allow staff to support TTP arrangements.

1.12 There would be a targeted communications plan focusing on peoples’ behaviour before Christmas and highlighting the risks of people gathering. It would be important for businesses and the general public to understand that if there wasn’t a significant decrease in virus transmission before Christmas, the government would have no choice but to impose Level 4 restrictions from 28th December. 

1.13 It was agreed that Cabinet would convene again the following afternoon to finalise arrangements.

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