Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 require a review of the coronavirus measures to be undertaken every three weeks. The most recent three-week review was due to be completed by 14 April.
Coronavirus is still prevalent across Wales – and the UK. The latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey estimate that between 27 March 2022 and 2 April 2022, an average of 230,800 people in Wales had Covid-19. This equates to one in 13 people. These high levels of infection are being driven by the BA.2 sub-type of the omicron variant.
The pandemic continues to cause pressure on the NHS. There are some encouraging signs that the number of Covid-19 related patients in hospital has plateaued over the past week, but there were still more than 1,300 in hospital as at 8 April.
Vaccination continues to be our best defence against coronavirus – the vaccines have weakened the link between the virus and serious illness and hospitalisation. It is never too late to be vaccinated in Wales. People continue to come forward every week for their first, second and booster vaccines. Health boards are currently inviting eligible people for their spring booster vaccine and children for their first dose.
The public health situation in Wales is consistent with the Covid Stable scenario, which is set out our plan Together for a Safer Future, which sets out how we will gradually move beyond the emergency phase of the response to the pandemic.
As a result of this review of the coronavirus regulations, the Cabinet has decided to continue our approach to gradually remove the legal restrictions that remain in place.
From 18 April 2022, businesses and organisations will no longer be legally required to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of contracting coronavirus.
We have also decided that the powers of local authorities to close or control premises and events are no longer necessary. Therefore the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Functions of Local Authorities etc.) (Wales) Regulations 2020 will expire on 18 April 2022.
We will retain the requirement for face coverings to be worn in health and social care settings for the time being to protect the most vulnerable and staff working in these settings.
Our strengthened guidance and public health advice will continue to recommend face coverings are worn in all indoor crowded or enclosed places, alongside other control measures people and organisations can take to help reduce transmission of coronavirus and to keep Wales safe.
With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and thanks to everyone’s continued efforts to protect one another and keep each other safe, we can all look forward to brighter times ahead.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.