Dark Mode
Saturday, 15 June 2024
Covid in Wales: level 4 lockdown restrictions to remain in place
Mark Drakeford at a press conference in December just after the level 4 restrictions were announced.

Extra safety measures may be introduced in workplaces and shops as cases remain very high

Additional safety measures may be introduced in Welsh shops and workplaces to try to bring Covid-19 under control as the nationwide lockdown was extended for at least another three weeks and teachers were told remote learning was likely to continue until the February half-term.

The Welsh first minister said ministers were reviewing whether supermarkets and other retailers needed to put further measures in place to protect shoppers and what else employers needed to do to make workplaces safer and help people work from home.

Mark Drakeford said: “We’re looking at supermarkets and other places where people leave their homes and go to, to make sure that they are organised in a way that keeps their staff and their customers safe.”

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he added: “We are looking at the workplace with our trade union and other colleagues to see if there are further safeguards that we can put in place to make sure that workplaces are safe, given the fact that the new variant is so much easier to catch than the previous version of coronavirus.”

Drakeford said he wanted to make sure supermarkets and shops were operating as carefully as they were during the first lockdown, such as having controls on the number of people shopping. He said he wanted to make sure measures in offices were strong enough to cope with the new strain and added that a decision would be made early next week.

The government said that unless there was a significant reduction in cases of coronavirus before 29 January – the date of the next three-week review of the regulations – school and college students would continue to learn online until the February half-term.

Drakeford said: “The coronavirus pandemic has reached a significant point. Cases in Wales remain very high and our NHS is under real and sustained pressure.

“The alert level 4 restrictions we introduced before Christmas must remain in place to keep us all safe. To slow the spread of the virus, we all must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

“These feel like dark times but the new Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out across Wales, giving us a path out of this pandemic.“It will take a huge effort to vaccinate everyone and, despite the end of this pandemic being in sight, it is more important than ever that we follow the rules and stay at home. We have made so many sacrifices together and we mustn’t stop now.”

Following a formal review of the alert level 4 lockdown restrictions, which were introduced at midnight on 19 December, all the measures will remain in place. This means nonessential retail, hospitality venues, licensed premises and leisure facilities will remain closed.

Drakeford said he shared the UK’s ambition of vaccinating all of the most vulnerable people by mid February but said it was not “sensible” to have a target when it was not clear how much vaccine would be available.

The first minister said he “strongly supports” plans to require all travellers to England and Scotland from international destinations to test negative for coronavirus before they can enter the country.

But because Cardiff airport is closed and people arriving in ports are travelling from the common travel area, there was no need at the moment to bring in such a rule. He also said a curfew in Wales would not be introduced at the moment.

source: Steven Morris