Social distancing could remain in Wales until the end of 2021

  • Interview with First Minister by ITV Wales correspondent Rob Osborne

Social distancing could still be in force in Wales at the end of this year, the First Minister has said today.

Speaking at a coronavirus briefing, Mark Drakeford said "I think that social distancing remains one of the strongest defences that we have...

"I'm not certain myself that there is a huge thirst for people to give up some of the safeguards that we we were all able to contribute to in the way we have in our own lives.

"I think they will remain part of the repertoire, here in Wales, during the rest of the summer, maybe into the rest of this year."

Mr Drakeford did say that social distancing could become advice rather than a legal requirement but that would depend on improvements in the position in Wales.

The First Minister used the briefing to provide detail around the latest easing of restrictions which will come into effect on Monday 7 June.

Wales will partially move into Alert Level 1 with 30 people allowed to gather outdoors informally and up to three households.

Organised outdoor events like concerts and football matches will also be allowed to go ahead with up to 4,000 people unseated and 10,000 seated.

Concerns over the Delta or Indian variant of the virus means that other restrictions, which it was hoped were to be lifted, will now have to wait for a further two weeks.

What is the current Covid situation in Wales?

  • Fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people.

  • There have been no new deaths in 9 days, according to Public Health Wales.

  • 97 people have the Delta or Indian variant of coronavirus.

  • 212,999 coronavirus cases in total identified in Wales.

Mark Drakeford said the majority of those people who have the new variant are people who have not been vaccinated. Although there were some examples of people contracting the variant who have had the vaccine.

When asked if there was now community transmission of the new variant in Wales, he said there was "no definitive evidence" but "we cannot imagine we will be exempt from further rises here in Wales or indeed the possibility that it may supplant the Kent variant as the dominant variant."

The largest cluster is in Conwy, where 300 people are now self-isolating as a result.

Mr Drakeford said he believes the origin of that cluster is international travel.

People living in Llandudno Junction, Llandudno, Penrhyn, Rhos on Sea, Colwyn Bay, Old Colwyn and Deganwy are being urged to come forward for free tests, even if they have no symptoms.

380 people have come forward for PCR testing and 1,300 lateral flow tests were distributed over six days.

Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, has thanked those who have come forward for testing.

He said: "By getting a test you have helped to limit the spread of the Delta variant.

“Although the response from residents has been very positive, there is still more we can do.  If you live in the area please get a test now, even if your symptoms are mild or if you have no symptoms at all."

What is the current vaccine situation in Wales?

  • 60% of 18 to 29-year-olds have had their first vaccine.

  • Nearly 1.2 million people have now had two doses of the vaccine.

  • It is expected that a further 90,000 people will have had their first dose by 21 June.

  • 180,000 more people are expected to have had both doses by the same date.