United Kingdom

Welsh First Minister REFUSES to commit to easing all Covid rules after July 15

Mark Drakeford said nobody knows what the impact of the Indian variant will be in a month's time as he announced a four-week pause on further relaxation in Wales.

He warned that another lockdown was not 'completely inconceivable', although he stressed that it is 'highly unlikely'.

Mr Drakeford stressed the delay to easing restrictions cannot be extended indefinitely 'in search of perfection' in the data from scientists.

He said the four-week pause would allow Wales to get 'a sufficiently good handle' on the impact of the vaccine on illness and hospitalisation.

Mark Drakeford said nobody knows what the impact of the Indian variant will be in a month's time as he announced a four-week pause on further relaxation in Wales

'Then we will make a calculation about how much headroom we have, as we always do, to take further steps,' he added.

Asked if he could commit to easing restrictions completely after July 15, Mr Drakeford said: 'I can't say that because I do not know and nobody else knows what the impact of the Delta variant will be by then.'

He insisted that people in Wales are 'absolutely not in lockdown' and 'the vast bulk of freedoms are already restored'.

Mr Drakeford stressed the delay to easing restrictions cannot be extended indefinitely 'in search of perfection' in the data from scientists

On the likelihood of another lockdown this year, the First Minister said: 'I'm not willing to say that it is completely inconceivable. I think it is highly unlikely.'

Latest figures show there are nearly 490 cases of the Indian variant in Wales and more than four out of five new Covid-19 cases are attributed to it.

Two-thirds of these are not linked to travel or contact with another case.

Wales is aiming to roll out more than half a million doses of vaccine over the next four weeks, and the Welsh Government hope that delaying easements will reduce a potential peak of daily hospital admissions by up to half.

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