Future planning for Coronavirus in Wales

Dawn Bowden MS said “it seems that for the foreseeable future we need to make plans for working and living with the Covid virus as part of our lives. Until a vaccination is provided, and we cant be sure that will happen soon, we need to plan accordingly so I welcome the Control Plan. It reminds us all of our responsibilities help keep Wales safe as we move forwards”.

 

The Coronavirus Control Plan for Wales sets out how all partners – including local government, health boards, businesses and the people of Wales – must work together to manage the risks of coronavirus.

The Welsh Government has set out plans for this phase of the pandemic. It highlights the importance of Wales’ response being a collective effort with everyone having a role to play to help stop the spread of the virus.

The plan has five key areas of intervention, which are –

  • Prevention
  • New cases and clusters
  • Incidents and outbreaks
  • Local and regional measures
  • All-Wales measures

At each level of intervention, the plan sets out the approach we will take should prevalence of the virus increase.  The most important element is prevention, including what we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus – such as washing our hands and keeping two metres apart. Working together to prevent coronavirus spreading in the first place is the only way further restrictions on our daily lives will be prevented.

At each level, we have systems in place across Wales to respond to new cases, clusters or outbreaks. Should it be necessary, we also set out in the plan our approach to introducing wider local, regional or all-Wales measures to keep Wales safe.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Coronavirus has not gone away, so it’s vital we continue to monitor, adapt and plan for any future outbreaks. We know that this virus prefers cold weather and, with autumn approaching, the plan sets out further steps we will take to keep Wales safe. 

“We are placing a huge importance on prevention. By getting that stage right we can avoid further restrictions on our lives. None of us wants to see another lockdown like we saw in March this year.

“We have shown that, working with partners, we can efficiently and effectively manage small incidents and outbreaks – as we saw in Anglesey and Merthyr Tydfil. 

“Our key messages is that each person, businesses and organisation has their part to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus.”

Exam grades update

A level, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades in Wales will now be awarded on the basis of Centre Assessment Grades, Education Minister Kirsty Williams confirmed today (Monday, August 17).

 The Minister said: “Working with Qualifications Wales and WJEC we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.

“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.

“I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place.

“For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales, will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment.

“For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.

“Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK.

“However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision.

“These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.

“Other Awarding Bodies across the UK are involved in the determining the approach to vocational qualifications.  This continues to be the case but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A level student at the earliest opportunity.”

 

Coronavirus has not gone away – we all have a shared and ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe.

After the Welsh Government’s latest review of the Covid regulations Dawn Bowden MS said “It is really important that people help the track and trace system to give everyone the best chance of tackling the virus”.

 

TITLE

 

Interim review of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020

DATE 14 August 2020
BY Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 place a series of restrictions on gatherings, the movement of people, and the operation of businesses, including closures. They require businesses, which are open to take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of exposure to coronavirus. They are designed to protect people from the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Welsh Ministers are required to review the need for the requirements and restrictions and their proportionality every 21 days. The last full review – the sixth – took place on 30 July and set out a phased approach for the next three-week cycle.

The scientific and medical advice shows that, overall, levels of coronavirus transmission in Wales are low. However, the situation in the rest of the UK, notably parts of England, and further afield is less encouraging.

As we move into the green phase in our traffic light system, with more and more premises, workplaces and venues now open, we need to make sure that people and businesses comply with the Regulations and adhere to guidance on operating in the ways we have agreed. One important element of the guidance for hospitality businesses and other higher risk premises has been the collection of contact details of customers and visitors. This is important to support contact tracers to reach people in the same venue as somebody who has contracted COVID-19 and minimize the risk of the infection spreading.

Many businesses and premises are collecting this information and we thank them for their efforts to keep Wales safe. Others unfortunately are not acting as responsibly. Nor do individuals always understand the importance of providing that information. Therefore, this week we will be clearer in the regulations that collection of contact details for the purposes of contact tracing is a reasonable measure that we expect these higher-risk premises to take. Enforcement officers in local authorities will deal with any non-compliance using the strengthened enforcement measures announced last week.

I have also considered the latest evidence on face coverings. When it is necessary, we will require the use of face coverings in more settings as part of a planned response to any incident or outbreak. This change will be part of a package of measures we might introduce in an area and will be lifted when the situation improves and it is no longer proportionate on public health grounds. The position on supermarkets is unchanged and we positively recommend wearing face coverings in crowded settings where social distancing is difficult.

This week we have explored whether we can make changes to the rules about people meeting indoors. Given the increases in cases across the UK linked to this activity, and the resurgence of the virus internationally this is not something we are able to take forward this week.

However, I appreciate the pressures and difficulties that people are experiencing and from 22 August, subject to conditions remaining favourable, we will make some cautious changes. We intend to allow extended households to include up to four households as part of a single exclusive extended household. This will help address the difficult choices that some families have had to make, such as only having one set of grandparents in an extended household. We also intend to allow indoor meals for up to 30 people following a wedding, civil partnership, or funeral. This easement would enable up to 30 people to come together to mark these important life events.

Coronavirus has not gone away – we all have a shared and ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe.