Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister
The coronavirus restrictions were last reviewed on 3 June when Wales moved into alert level one and restrictions on outdoors activities and events were relaxed. We have reviewed the public health situation this week to assess whether we can complete the move to alert level one within this review cycle.
Unfortunately, the spread of the delta variant in communities across Wales – there is evidence of community transmission of this variant – and a sustained increase in cases of coronavirus overall, mean we will be pausing changes to the regulations to protect the freedoms we already have and to maximise the protection of the public through the Covid vaccination programme. This pause will cover the next review cycle – we will review the coronavirus regulations again by 15 July.
The modelling, which has been carried out, suggests a four-week period of no change in the regulations could help to reduce the peak number of daily hospitalisations by up to half and provide time for more people to receive their second dose of vaccine.
We will be accelerating second doses, with a planned deployment of more than half a million doses over the coming month, to help prevent a fresh wave of serious illness.
While we will not be making any substantive changes to the rules, we are making some minor and technical amendments to the coronavirus regulations to make them easier to understand and easier to apply for businesses.
We will amend the regulations so from Monday 21 June:
- The number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership reception or wake, organised by a business in an indoors regulated premises, such as an hotel, will be determined by the size of the venue and a risk assessment.
- And exception to the events restrictions will be made to clarify that small “grassroots” entertainment, such as music and comedy venues, which may otherwise be caught by those restrictions, are not prevented from operating at alert level two and lower.
- Primary school children will be able to stay overnight in a residential outdoor education centre. Guidance will set out that groups should be limited to school contact groups or bubbles. We will work with the sector to consider options for the summer.
- Regulation 16 on taking reasonable measures is being updated to reflect the latest evidence on the hierarchy of risk, including incorporating ventilation as an important mitigation and to clarify rules around 2m distancing for groups of six people in regulated premises or outdoors.
The programme of pilot events in theatre, sport and other sectors will also continue throughout June and July.
The current guidance about non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for schools and settings will remain unchanged until the end of this term, including for face coverings. We will continue to work with stakeholders over the coming weeks to co-produce a framework to support schools in escalating and de-escalating NPIs from September.
We have also carried out a final review of the Public Health (Protection from Eviction) (No.2) (Wales) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021, which restrict evictions, and have decided these will remain in place until they expire on 30 June.
Regulations laid yesterday mean that until 30 September, tenants will continue to receive six months’ notice before a landlord can make a possession claim to the court. We are considering further options for strengthening support for tenants. In the meantime, we would urge all tenants experiencing difficulties paying their rent to speak to their landlord or agent and to contact Citizen’s Advice Cymru or Shelter Cymru for further help and advice.
The growth in coronavirus cases in Wales is now inevitable, but the levels of harm associated with it are not. We encourage everybody to accept their invitation for the vaccine and to complete the full two-dose course.