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Welsh Government changes for wedding and outdoor education sector but pause on wider lockdown lifting

First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce a four-week pause to the easing of coronavirus rules on Friday to help boost protection against the new Delta variant – although there will be changes for weddings, wakes, and outdoor activity centres.

The Welsh Government says it plans to speed up second doses over the next four weeks with another half a million doses rolled out as cases of coronavirus begin to rise.

This increase in cases is linked to the Delta variant and Wales’ coronavirus case rate has risen steadily since the end of May although it remains the lowest in the UK at around 24 per 100,000.

The variant was first identified in India, with UK Government – which has paused its own path out of lockdown – under fire for not closing the border with the country earlier.

It means plans for a further substantive easing of rules for meeting indoors on June 21 in Wales has been paused although there are some changes being made.

These include:

  • The number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership reception or wake, organised by a business in an indoors regulated premise, such as a hotel, will be determined by the size of the venue and a risk assessment. It is currently limited to 30 indoors. Under the new rules there would be no nationally set limit on guests.
  • Clarifying small grassroots music and comedy venues will be able to operate on the same basis as hospitality venues, like pubs and cafes.
  • Primary school children in the same school contact group or bubble will be able to stay overnight in a residential outdoor education centres.
  • Pilot events in theatre, sport and other sectors will also continue throughout June and July.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “In the space of just a few short weeks, the delta variant has entered Wales and quickly spread throughout the country. There is sustained and accelerating transmission, not just in North and South East Wales but in all parts of Wales.

“It is now the most dominant variant in new cases in Wales. We are once again facing a serious public health situation.

“We have the lowest coronavirus rates in the UK and the highest vaccination rates for first doses. A four-week delay in relaxing restrictions could help to reduce the peak number of daily hospital admissions by up to half, at a time when the NHS is very busy supporting all our healthcare needs – not just treating coronavirus.”

The Welsh Government reviewed the public health situation this week, mid-way through the current three-week regulations cycle, after announcing a phased move into alert level one.

The rules around larger outdoor activities and events were relaxed on June 7.

The regulations will be reviewed again on 15 July.

The First Minister added: “This week, we reached the target of offering all eligible adults their first dose vaccine six weeks ahead of schedule.

“But those offers won’t help protect people, unless everyone turns up for their first and second dose appointments.

“I would urge everyone to take up their invitation for a vaccine and to complete the full two-dose course. It’s the best way we can protect ourselves against this virus.”

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