Children returning to school is priority over lockdown easing, warns First Minister

Mark Drakeford says the priority is for children to return to school in September. Credit: PA Images

The First Minister has warned there may not be a further easing of lockdown restrictions later this month because the priority is for children to return to school in September. 

Mark Drakeford was speaking at a specially-convened meeting of the Senedd to discuss lockdown changes announced last week. 

He told Senedd Members that when he and his cabinet decide on the next set of changes due to be announced on 21 August, "the safe reopening of schools will be our priority." 

He added "there may be little scope to go beyond that" in terms of reopening of businesses or increasing the amount of socialising that people can do. 

The First Minister also hinted that the Welsh Government would be willing to impose strong local lockdowns similar to that announced in Aberdeen where pubs, cafes and restaurants are being closed.

Mark Drakeford said that he'd already talked to Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and was speaking to her again this afternoon. He said he'd told her he thought they were "in the same place" in their approach to keeping covid transmission as close to zero as possible.

There was also a dampening of expectations for families who'd like to reunite indoors.

From this week up to 30 people can meet at a distance outdoors but the First Minister said that there will be no change to the rules for indoor gatherings until Friday 14 at the earliest. 

However, he warned that any such change would be "the most risky".

"Seven out of ten people contract coronavirus indoors," he said, "and if the medical advice is that it's too risky, there'll be no change announced next Friday."