Tackling the coronavirus crisis has meant major changes to the lives of every single one of us across Wales. We have had to take difficult decisions in order to save lives and protect our NHS.
The actions of every one of us have contributed to falling levels of infection in Wales, but the virus remains a very serious threat to us all and we cannot be complacent in any way.
For that reason, as we consider lifting some of the restrictions, we must do so with great caution and on the basis of the best scientific data and analysis.
We have all played our part in abiding by the restrictions. Looking ahead, I want to be open with the Welsh people as I consider, along with my Cabinet colleagues, how the restrictions might be eased.
I want to use the coming weeks to engage in a conversation with people in Wales, to explain how we will take decisions and weigh up the risks and benefits of moving out of lockdown.
I am mindful of the impact on families, jobs, health and wellbeing for all of us, but we cannot put at risk the sacrifices we have made. We will not do anything without being as sure as we possibly can be that we do not risk a second significant wave of infection, and therefore have to re-introduce some restrictions.
I recognise that many people will be fearful about stepping back into a form of normal life – so this framework also sets out the evidence, principles, and public health measures that will make sure that everyone can have confidence in the approach to easing the restrictions.
This framework, therefore, is based on three pillars. Firstly, it sets out the measures and evidence by which we will judge the current infection level and transmission rates for coronavirus in Wales.
Secondly, it sets out a series of principles by which we will examine proposed measures to ease the current restrictions, grounded in both scientific evidence and wider social and economic impacts.
Thirdly, it sets out how we will enhance our public health surveillance and response system to enable us to closely track the virus as restrictions are eased, and how this system will protect people’s health.
Wales has maintained a national public health system, with a strong local presence in every part of Wales, and we will build on these strengths. This public health response will draw on the international evidence, building on our strong existing networks.
Taken together, these pillars are the basis on which we will lead Wales out of this crisis in a way that keeps everyone safe and revitalises our economy as quickly as possible.
The whole of the UK entered ‘lockdown’ in the same ways and at the same time, and our preference as a government would be that all four nations retain a common approach to lifting the restrictions. However, we have been consistent in making clear that we will take the right decisions in the interests of the people of Wales.
Our approach here is to be open about those decisions, use the time we have to consider and review the restrictions, and to involve and engage people.
This document sets out the basis on which we will do this, and contributes to the work underway across the UK to map out the way forward.