The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has concluded his latest press conference with positive news for Wales. All businesses are to re-open.
No one can doubt the success of the Welsh Governments vaccination programme in Wales. The Welsh Government has shown that it can lead the way and deliver through taking its own independent stance on something as devastating as the Coronavirus Pandemic. Huge amounts of human effort and financial resources have been poured in to the health sector and business sector. We asked the First Minister; Given that we in Wales are now seeing the receding of this Covid tidal wave, which caused so much misery will the Welsh Government commit themselves to at least putting the same amount of effort into reducing child poverty in Wales, which is on the increase and also has the most devastating impact on children and families?
A Welsh Government spokesperson said:
“As Wales recovers from the pandemic, tackling poverty and inequality is at the heart of our plans to build a fairer, stronger and greener Wales, in which no one is held back or left behind.
“We are extending the excellent work delivered through our Child Poverty – Income Maximisation Action Plan, taking forward practical actions to help maximise family incomes, reduce living costs and build financial resilience. In March, we delivered our first National Benefit Take-up campaign which helped people claim more than £650,000 of extra income. We will deliver another campaign this autumn.
“We have made more than £9m grant funding available through our Single Advice Fund to ensure some of the most vulnerable people in our communities get the advice they need to maximise their income and better manage their financial commitments. We have also invested an extra £25.4m in our Discretionary Assistance Fund to help people who are experiencing severe financial hardship.
“We have also allocated an additional £83.3m since the start of the pandemic to provide free school meals and have started work on a review of the eligibility criteria for this initiative.
“A great many of the levers to tackle poverty and inequality relate to the tax and welfare system and are not devolved. We will use every power we have to create a fairer Wales but we need the UK Government to act too – reversing its decision to scrap the £20 weekly top-up for Universal Credit would be a good place to start.”
We also asked the First Minister what the Welsh Government could to to reach the final doubters for vaccination in Wales given that it is now a small percentage of people who have not been vaccinated. We asked the First Minister what more can the Welsh Government to to persuade those people to come forward and receive the vaccine?
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are working closely with communities to address any concerns individuals may have, help tackle misinformation and make vaccination more readily available. Our message has been that everyone is part of a Wales-wide effort to keep ourselves safe from the virus. We will continue to encourage anyone who hasn’t had the jab to get vaccinated and help play their part in keeping themselves, their loved one and Wales safe.”
Answering a question from the BBC’s Felicity Evans about the vaccination rates in young people the First Minister said: “It is import just to explain the reason why the second dose of vaccine is still in the 50s, is because not a sufficient number of weeks have a lapse, but quite a lot of young people to come forward for the second dose of the vaccine. It isn’t that we are seeing hesitancy at the second dose, it’s just eight weeks need to go by before you’re invited and for many young people that period of time has yet to be completed. So we’re over 75% of first doses, and that number goes up every day we wish it could go up faster. Of course we do. And that’s why we are doing all the things we are doing to make vaccination more readily available to young people in the way they lead their life. These are very often people who are in work and finding time to come forward for appointments is more difficult. It’s why we got the pop up clinics, the walk in clinics and the different ways in which we are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to come forward for vaccination. And the appeal we make to people of all ages, including all young people, is not one in which we are trying to alarm people into vaccination, or to appeal to people on the basis of just their own benefit, we say to our young people if you come forward for vaccination, you are playing your part and making your contribution to your own safety, of course, but at the safety of your friends, your family, your families and to that great collective effort that we’ve made here in Wales.”
During his press conference the First Minister said: “Vaccination has got us to this better place. We have very high take up rates. We continue to make progress in the younger age groups too.”
He said it was never to late to be vaccinated here in Wales. ‘It protects you, your friends and your family’.
The full details of changes in Wales are as follows :
At alert level zero, all restrictions on meeting with others will be removed and all businesses will be able to open. But some important protections will continue to be in place to give everyone the confidence to enjoy the summer ahead.
Everyone must continue to isolate for 10 days if they have Covid-19 symptoms or if they have a positive test result.
Face coverings will continue to be required in most indoor public places in Wales, including on public transport, in shops and in healthcare settings. There will be exemptions for people who cannot wear them, as there are currently.
All those responsible for premises open to the public and workplaces must carry out a Covid risk assessment and continue to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
Moving to alert level zero is another significant step forward for us all. For the first time since the pandemic started, all businesses will be able to open and all legal limits on meeting people in indoor private spaces will be removed.
Alert level zero does not mean the end of restrictions and a free-for-all. But it does mean we can all enjoy more freedoms with the confidence there are still important protections in place to make sure our public health is being safeguarded while we are out and about.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet and we all need to work together to do everything we can to keep this virus under control – at alert level zero, everything we do will have an impact on this virus.
Even if you have been fully vaccinated, meeting outside is safer than inside; let fresh air into indoor spaces, get tested even for mild symptoms, and self-isolate when you are required to do so.
Continue to keep our distance when we are out and work from home whenever we can. Wear a face mask, especially in crowded places, on public transport, in shops and in health and social care settings.
“Taking responsibility and working together means we can all do the things we’ve missed the most. We’ve all got a reason to keep Wales safe.
Wales will move to alert level zero at 6am on 7 August, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations in Wales. At alert level zero:
There will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events.
Businesses which were required to be closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs.
Premises which are open to the public and workplaces will have more flexibility about which reasonable measures they take to minimise the risk of coronavirus. But these should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances.
Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served, but will continue to be required in most indoor public places.
Also on 7 August (from 00.01), adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone who has coronavirus.