Posted: Mon 4th May 2020

Early stages of leaving coronavirus lockdown will not look very different, says First Minister

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 4th, 2020

The early stages of leaving the coronavirus lockdown will not look very different to the current restrictions, the First Minister of Wales has said.

One of the main questions on people’s lips in recent weeks has been when the regulations will be eased as the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading slows down.

However, Mark Drakeford urged caution when questioned about the possibility during a press conference held today.

He said: “I don’t want to offer people false optimism about how quickly people will begin to see a difference.

“My view has long now been that early stages of moving out of lockdown will not look very different to lockdown itself.

“But those first measures need to be careful, they need to be cautious, and they need to be capable of being monitored carefully as well, to make sure that if there are any unintended consequences we can deal with them quickly.”

The First Minister acknowledged that most indicators relating to the coronavirus are decreasing in Wales.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus reported every day by Public Health Wales are now consistently less than 200, with a total of 1,505 tests carried out yesterday.

But Mr Drakeford added that the figures were more than just statistics, with many lives lost due to the virus.

He said: “The number of people in hospital with coronavirus has fallen from more than 1,300 on the 23rd of April, to just over 1,000 yesterday.

“There are now fewer than 100 people in critical care beds in Wales with coronavirus, down from more than 160 in the middle of April.

“About a quarter of people in critical care are being treated for coronavirus, and that is down from a peak of more than 40%.

“All of this this body of evidence taken together shows that everything we are doing as a community has helped us to move past this peak of the virus, the level of compliance across all parts of our community has had the desired effect.

“Nevertheless, the Public Health Wales figures of deaths from coronavirus in Wales, are approaching 1,000, and the ONS official figures which count all deaths have already exceeded this sombre milestone.

“As I say every time I come to this podium, these are more than just numbers, each one of those is a life lost. Behind every number is a person, and a family grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Mr Drakeford was asked about reports today of UK Government draft plans on what leaving lockdown could look like.

He said: “What I’ve seen of the documents of the UK circulated over the weekend I think the limitation is not that they would cause active harm to people’s health, but they are pitched very generally.

“What we will have to do in Wales is to translate the general advice they give into much more specific action in different workplaces, because workplaces vary enormously.

“What you need to be able to do to make one workplace safe will not be identical to what will be needed in a different sort of setting.

“That’s why we’ve been working on this over the last 10 days or more involving trade unions, involving employer associations, and very good help for example, from organisations like the Wales Automotive Forum.”

You can view the full briefing from today, including the Q&A session below:

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