Advice presented to First Minister on Amendments to Health Protection Regulation (December 2020)
I have reviewed the proposal to retain existing Health Protection restrictions and align these measures with the four levels outlined in the COVID control plan. I note the higher prevalence of COVID-19 in Wales compared with other UK Nations. The positive effect of our autumn firebreak has waned and the overall picture is of increasing viral transmission across Wales with consequent high impact on our health and social care system.
I therefore agree that Wales needs to strengthen current restrictions and I support a move to level 4 arrangements as soon as is practicably possible.
I also recommend a change to the arrangements for Christmas relaxation which have been agreed across the four UK nations. Reducing the number of households which are able to join together will mitigate the increase in viral transmission which is recognised as a likely consequence of the relaxation.
We should advise people who are in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable group or over 70 years of age to limit contacts outside their immediate households both now and over the Christmas period. I am writing to this group with further advice to support their decision making.
I recommend that we encourage local authorities to do everything in their power to prevent people from congregating in public places; planned seasonal attractions such as Winter Wonderlands and Christmas Markets must be managed in a way that do not encourage social mixing or should be cancelled this year.
Our messaging to our communities should emphasise that by staying at home, not travelling, not shopping for non-essential goods, and not participating in social and leisure activities we can best protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our NHS.
Dr Frank Atherton
Chief Medical Officer
17 December 2020