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Wales will not rule out further COVID lockdowns and will ‘follow the data’

Written by on 05/07/2021

Further lockdowns in Wales will not be ruled out as the country is in a “very difficult situation” with rising COVID-19 cases, the Welsh health minister has said.

Eluned Morgan said Wales will not be rushed into making a decision about scrapping its coronavirus restrictions despite England’s plan to do so on 19 July.

She told a news conference in Cardiff: “We will have to learn to live with this virus and what I won’t give you is any assurances that this is the end of the road.

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“We don’t know. There may be a new variant that escapes our vaccines, so I can’t make those kind of predictions.”

Boris Johnson is set to announce on Monday evening that face masks will no longer be required in many settings and social distancing restrictions will be removed in pubs and restaurants in England from 19 July.

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Baroness Morgan said she was “surprised” that the UK government was able to make such predictions and that the Welsh government will be “following the data rather than following the politics” when it considers whether measures can be eased over the next few weeks.

Ministers in Cardiff Bay have so far refused to follow the UK and Scottish governments in setting a date when they will ease restrictions.

Despite Wales having the best vaccination rates in the UK, they argue that experts need more time to analyse the extent vaccinations have broken the link between infections and hospital cases.

When asked whether the majority of COVID-19 restrictions should be lifted, Baroness Morgan replied: “We are very clear that we are still in a very difficult situation because the case numbers are increasing exponentially still in Wales.”

She told the reporters the emergence of the Delta variant “has sent cases rising again”, especially in North Wales where there are “very high” levels of infection in the community.

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A face mask requirement sign beside alcohol branding at a pub in Cardiff
Image: The Welsh government is expected to announce its position on lifting lockdown on 14 July

But she said ministers would need to consider the consequences of extending restrictions, such as the impact on mental health and the economy, especially given the reduced number of people being hospitalised with COVID-19.

“Our primary concern is to keep people safe but of course we need to understand that we are going to learn to live with this illness and we are going to have to adapt as a society to a situation where we will be exposed to an extent to this new variant and to coronavirus more generally,” Baroness Morgan said.

She said the Welsh government would announce its position on 14 July, adding that Wales “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting rules, but only if it is “right”.

“Boris Johnson will do what he thinks is right for England, and we will do what’s right for us here in Wales,” she said.

 Sky News

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