Wales delays easing Covid rules by four weeks amid spike in Delta variant cases

17 June 2021, 22:16 | Updated: 17 June 2021, 22:23

Mark Drakeford has pushed back Wales' relaxation of Covid rules
Mark Drakeford has pushed back Wales' relaxation of Covid rules. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Wales has delayed easing its Covid restrictions by four weeks after a spike in cases of the Delta variant of coronavirus.

First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford will announce the delay on Friday and he is set to encourage people to pick up their second vaccine doses to combat the disease.

He hopes to distribute more than half a million doses in the next four weeks and his move follows Boris Johnson delaying England's "Freedom Day" to July 19.

That also came due to a spike in cases.

In Wales, nearly 500 cases of the Delta variant have been identified. More than four in five new cases are the variant, too.

Mr Drakeford said: "In the space of just a few short weeks, the Delta variant has entered Wales and quickly spread throughout the country.

"There is sustained and accelerating transmission, not just in north and south-east Wales but in all parts of Wales.

"It is now the most dominant variant in new cases in Wales. We are once again facing a serious public health situation.

Read more: Covid infections show signs of 'slowing down' with cases 'to decline within two weeks'

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"We have the lowest coronavirus rates in the UK and the highest vaccination rates for first doses.

"A four-week delay in relaxing restrictions could help to reduce the peak number of daily hospital admissions by up to half, at a time when the NHS is very busy supporting all our healthcare needs - not just treating coronavirus."

Wales last relaxed its social distancing rules on June 7, when outdoor events of up to 10,000 people were given the green light to return.

Concerts, football games and sporting activities were allowed to resume with up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 sitting.

The rules will be reviewed on July 15. Some rules have been altered so events like weddings and wakes have their attendance limits tied to the size of the venue and a risk assessment.