Wales lockdown to continue, but some restrictions toughened up


Wales its continuing its lockdown and will be toughening up some restrictions as the nation struggles to manage the spread of the new highly infectious coronavirus variant.

People in Wales are already being told to stay at home and not mix with other households, but the lockdown measures had been due for a review.

After looking at the data, officials have decided all current measures should stay in place – including the closure of non-essential shops and hospitality – but showrooms will also have to close.

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Unless cases drop dramatically before the next review date on 29 January, school and college students will have to continue learning online until the February half-term.

The government is also looking into whether major supermarkets and retailers which remain open should put additional measures in place, and what else employers can do to protect people in the workplace.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the epidemic in Wales has reached a “significant point” and the NHS is “under real and sustained pressure”.

He added: “The alert level four restrictions we introduced before Christmas must remain in place to keep us all safe.

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“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.”

The alert level four lockdown restrictions were initially introduced at midnight on 19 December, although they were briefly lifted over Christmas to allow two households to meet for celebrations.

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A number of the UK’s coronavirus hotspots are in Wales and a surgeon recently warned life-saving care of non-COVID patients is under threat if critical care units continue to fill up.

In late December, the health board running the largest hospital in Cardiff was forced to tweet an emergency appeal for medical students to help with patients.

On Thursday, Public Health Wales reported a further 1,718 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths.

The seven-day incidence rate for Wales up until 2 January was 486.5 cases per 100,000 people.

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