Welsh lockdown measures likely to stay in place for the remainder of January

Ministers do not see ‘much headroom for change’

It is likely that Wales will stay in a strict lockdown for the remainder of the January period, as the ministers are reviewing the current restrictions before an announcement on Friday.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has stated that it was “very hard to see where room for manoeuvre is at the moment” with the NHS “under huge pressure”.

He has also said that the Welsh Government is unlikely to tighten the restrictions further, even with the new threat of a more contagious variant of the virus.

He has said there could be some tweaks “at the margins” but no wholesale changes as is “difficult to see what more could be done”.

A four-level system of COVID-19 restrictions was brought into place on 20th December, with people being told to stay home and avoid traveling unless essential. All non-essential shops and hospitality and gyms have stayed closed.

People must also work from home “wherever possible”, and schools are to use online learning until the 18th January.

The new variant of COVID-19 is much more transmissible than the previous version.

Within The Imperial College study, it suggested that transmission of the new variant tripled during England’s November lockdown, with the previous reduced by a third.

Mark Drakeford has made it clear that he does not believe the government needs to change the system of restrictions that it had introduced before the new variant.

“We’ll keep our plans under review, but level four restrictions in Wales are very strict indeed, and it’s difficult to see what more could be done to them.”

“If they need to be tweaked at the margins to take account of the new variation that’s what the cabinet here will consider.”

The First Minister has already dismissed calls by teaching unions to suspend the phased return of face-to-face teaching.

“Our health service remains under huge pressure and the coming weeks will be very difficult indeed with winter pressures on the one hand and growing numbers of people suffering from coronavirus in our hospitals on the other.”

On Wednesday, the government’s cabinet will meet to review the current restrictions ahead of the official review on Friday. Suzy Davies, member of the Senedd for South Wales West, said that questions would remain “about how legitimate the decisions of the Welsh Government are” until MSs had the opportunity to question them in Welsh Parliament.

It has also been confirmed that the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, has said that Wales has received 22,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine following the rollout.

It is confirmed that Welsh students studying in English universities are being asked to stay at home, and not to travel to their universities unless their course requires them to do so. The Welsh Government have yet comment if they require the same for students studying in Wales.

There are currently 2,700 coronavirus-related patients in hospitals across the entire country. After Friday’s decision, the next three-week review announcement is not expected until the 29th of January.

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