First Minister’s statement – 13th May 2020

I am one of the Welsh Labour MS on duty today and we have just received this statement from the First Minister updating members of the Senedd.

TITLE Coronavirus (COVID-19)
DATE 13th May 2020
BY Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister


Llywydd, yn fy natganiad heddiw byddaf yn rhoi gwybodaeth i Aelodau’r Senedd ar y camau diweddaraf yn y gwaith o ymateb i’r argyfwng coronafeirws.

Yn ol y Ddeddf Coronafeirws, mae’n rhaid i Weinidogion Cymru adolygu’r rheoliadau bob tair wythnos.

Daeth y cyfnod hwnnw i ben ddydd Iau diwethaf ac ar ddydd Gwener, cyhoeddais ein penderfyniadau yn sgil yr arolwg honno.

Byddaf yn gosod allan ein penderfyniadau fel Llywodraeth, a’r dystiolaeth y tu ol iddynt.

Byddwn yn cadw llygad gofalus ar y dystiolaeth o hyn ymlaen, er mwyn dal ati i warchod iechyd pobl Cymru.

Llywydd, once again I will update Members of the Senedd on the latest actions in our response to the coronavirus crisis.

As in previous weeks I will focus on matters not covered in the statements which follow from the Minister for Health and Social Services, the Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, and the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

Before I do, I want to start by reflecting on the VE Day celebrations on Friday. Coronavirus obviously changed the way we marked this important anniversary, but it was no less poignant or impressive.

I had the privilege of speaking to a number of veterans over Zoom and joined tens of thousands of people across Wales in the two-minute silence from the steps of the Welsh Government building in Cardiff. Even in these crisis-dominated times it was absolutely right to find that moment and to recognise the sacrifices made.

Last week I updated Members on the progress of the disease.

Very sadly Public Health Wales has reported more than 1,100 people have died. Behind each number is a person and a family, which is grieving. These are a sobering reminder of the need for continued vigilance and our shared obligation to go on doing all those things, which help save lives.

And it is because of those efforts that the number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported every day by Public Health Wales has continued to fall.

About one in 10 people in hospital are being treated for coronavirus at the moment and around one in five critical care beds are occupied by people with coronavirus – this is down

from a high point of 42% in mid-April.

I am pleased to report more than 3,000 people in Wales have recovered from coronavirus and have left hospital.

Llywydd, the Welsh Government continues to respond to the impacts of the lockdown on vulnerable citizens.

We know that for some people, home is not a place of safety, and it is essential people who need help can continue to get it in spite of the current restrictions.

The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip has launched a new campaign to make sure victims and survivors of domestic abuse know how they can access support. It encourages bystanders to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and to seek support for those who are unable to get help themselves.

Llywydd, the work of volunteers in the current crisis is genuinely inspiring. Thousands of people have offered their services. Thanks to the strong partnership structure we have in Wales, County Voluntary Councils and local authorities moved quickly to match volunteers with the people who need their help, to provide immediate and longer term support.

In Carmarthenshire, for example, more than 360 people responded to a call for help from the Council to set up furniture and equipment at the county’s field hospitals within 24 hours of the appeal going live.

Llywydd, the Welsh Government will continue to recognise the crucial role of the 3rd sector.  Last week we announced that thousands of small charities in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector will receive a £10,000 business support grant to help them respond to the financial challenges of Covid-19.

This new £26m package will support an additional 2,600 properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or below. This includes charity run shops, sports premises and community centres which, until now, have not been eligible for this type of support.

Llywydd, last week, the Welsh Government carried out the statutory three-week review of the lockdown regulations in Wales.

We carried out this second review using the latest evidence from the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. While we have passed the initial peak of infection, and rates continue to fall, the clear advice from the experts is that it is too early for the restrictions to be lifted.

We have therefore kept the stay-at-home regulations in place and made three small adjustments. These came into force on Monday:

  • We have removed the once-a-day exercise restriction – exercise will have to start and end at home and be local.
  • We have allowed garden centres to open, if they are able to comply with the physical distancing duty.
  • We have enabled local authorities to begin to plan for the re-opening of libraries and municipal recycling centres.

The evidence underpinning our decisions was that the reproduction rate – the R rate – of the virus continues to fall. It is below one – this is the rate at which we would see exponential growth.

If sustained, these conditions will allow us to take incremental steps over the coming weeks and months to further ease restrictions, but only when it is safe to do so.

We will keep the regulations under constant review to enable us to respond to the latest evidence about how the virus is behaving, the effectiveness of restrictions, and levels of compliance.

Llywydd, we support a four-nation response to coming out of lock-down, and continue to work with all parts of the UK.  But the actions we take and the timing of changes will be determined by conditions here in Wales.

In responding to the virus, we have built on our distinctive Welsh infrastructure. Our NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and our relationships with Welsh businesses, have helped us to secure supplies of PPE from domestic and international sources.
But where there are UK arrangements that can work well for us, we will be part of those.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced a new Joint Bio-security Centre to advise the four Chief Medical Officers on the level of infection across the UK. We are talking to the UK Government and the other devolved administrations about how this can operate effectively across the UK, and I will update the Senedd as the project develops.

Later this week we will provide more detail about our plans for the weeks ahead. These are being developed with our partners in the trade unions, in business, in local government, in the NHS and other public services.  We are planning for the future and when services do open, the public can be confident the arrangements will be safe and workable.

Llywydd, the coronavirus crisis is very far from over. The progress of the disease demands a continuous and highly focused response. I will continue to report each week to the Senedd of the actions taken by the Welsh Government.


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