Outdoor attractions to close in Wales as Covid-19 rates soar, First Minister announces

Video report by ITV News Wales Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Outdoor attractions in Wales are to close as part of attempts by the Welsh Government to control the soaring rates of coronavirus in Wales.

It comes as the First Minister warned the NHS in Wales "will not be able to cope as it is today" if the current levels of coronavirus-related admissions continue in the coming weeks.

An updated coronavirus control plan will be published by the Welsh Government next week to help people, businesses and public services "plan in these rapidly changing circumstances," he told a press conference.

  • Watch the press conference in full with the First Minister

The Welsh Government's traffic light plan was first launched in May as the country prepared to come out of lockdown, but this has now been revised.

Mr Drakeford said: "The revised plan sets out four alert levels. Today in Wales, we are at alert level 3, the traffic light is red, the level of risk is very high.

"If the strengthened measures of last week and the extra action of this week - together with the efforts each and every one of us need to make - if those measures do not succeed in turning the tide of the virus then it is inevitable that we will have to consider a move to alert level 4 immediately after Christmas." 

Wales is currently at 'level three' of Covid alert level

It comes as the First Minister doesn't expect to bring in a lockdown before Christmas as current measures "need to have a chance to have an impact".

The First Minister's official spokesman said on Thursday that "no decisions have been made yet" for post-Christmas plans for more restrictions with the cabinet continuing to discuss options.

However there is no doubt that with rising infection rates in Wales and increasing numbers of people in hospital with Covid, tougher restrictions are on their way after the Christmas period when the rules on households meeting will be eased for five days from December 23rd to 27th. 

In that time people from up to three households will be able to form a bubble to meet up indoors, although they have to stick to the same bubble and Wales' top doctor has encouraged people to keep gatherings as small as possible.

He told a press conference on Friday that coronavirus is spreading "faster in Wales than models predicted" with fears there will be 2,500 people in hospital with the virus by Christmas day.

"Put quite simply, our NHS will not be able to cope if we continue to see this level of coronavirus-related admissions in the coming weeks, on top of the normal winter pressures", Mr Drakeford said.

He added there are currently 1,500 fewer staff available to work in the NHS due to the levels of people having to self-isolate.

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, also said on Wednesday that lockdown restrictions "would be something that beyond Christmas we may need to come back to, in terms of what further restrictions are needed. That will be determined largely by where we are at Christmas."

That means tougher restrictions are almost certain to be introduced in Wales from 28th December along with a route map towards easing them once infection rates are under control again. 

Different levels of restrictions could be seen in parts of Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford warned it was "inevitable" that greater restrictions would be imposed if Wales moved from level 3 to level 4 on the system.

"If it were to be the case that some parts of Wales established themselves in a predictable and sustainable way as having a different level of the virus to other parts of Wales, it would be possible to have more than one level in Wales," Mr Drakeford said.

"That is not the position we are in in Wales today. The virus is rising everywhere in Wales.

"But the plan will set out the criteria we would use, the judgments that will be needed if that pattern were to change in the future."

Mr Drakeford said moving to level four would not be a firebreak lockdown, which was for a "fixed period of time".