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Coronavirus: Indian variant concerns for Welsh Government

THE Welsh Government has “paused” plans to allow smaller events to reopen, as well as relaxing rules on people meeting, due to the Indian variant.

From today Wales will move to alert level two, meaning indoor hospitality and entertainment venues can re-open, with coronavirus safety measures will be in place, including face coverings, sanitizing, Test and Trace, and social distancing.

But first minister Mark Drakeford has said further measures were considered, such as allowing smaller events to go ahead, but it was decided not to progress with this due to the emergence of the Indian variant of coronavirus in the UK – with 17 cases in Wales yesterday and more than 700 in England.

Mr Drakeford said: “We had thought of moving ahead with the reopening of smaller events, we’ll pause that for a moment

“We were thinking of liberalising the rules in the way in which people can meet together, not just in their extended household but beyond that, we’ll pause that for the moment.

“If the advice on the Indian variant is that it is safe to move ahead, we won’t need to wait for the end of our next three-week cycle to do those things, but the Indian variant is giving us cause for concern.

“We don’t know enough about whether it is more transmissible than the Kent variant, we don’t know enough about whether the vaccination programme is as effective in dealing with it as it is with other variants we have in Wales, and until we’re a bit clearer on that I think it is sensible to take a precautionary approach.”

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Mr Drakeford also said: “There were 17 cases of the Indian variant in Wales yesterday and over 700 in England.

“And as we were just hearing, there’s quite a concentration of that in the north-west of England and there’s a lot of traffic between the north-east of Wales and the north-west of England so we were considering a small number of further easements from Monday but have decided to hold back on those until we get the advice from Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) met yesterday, our own scientific advice which we’ll receive imminently, just to make sure that we are continuing to take a precautionary approach in case the Indian variant is on the march, and therefore Wales would be vulnerable to it as well.”

The first minister also confirmed he would be prepared to delay further steps in his road map if advice from Sage suggests that it is necessary, adding that they [Welsh Government] try to follow scientific advice ‘at every step.’

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