WALES is set today to speed up its exit from lockdown thanks to low Covid vases and rapid vaccinations. First minister Mark Drakeford will annou
WALES is set today to speed up its exit from lockdown thanks to low Covid vases and rapid vaccinations.
First minister Mark Drakeford will announce indoor group activities can return on May 3 – a full two weeks earlier than planned.
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Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford is speeding up the exit from lockdown[/caption]
It means venues like soft play areas and community centres will be able to reopen a fortnight ahead of those in England.
The plan had initially been to allow them to open their doors again on May 17, in line with the PM’s roadmap in England.
But Mr Drakeford said Wales has some “extra headroom” to go faster because of its stellar jabs rollout.
And he also confirmed the country will go ahead with plans to let pubs and restaurants welcome customers indoors again from mid-May.
He said: “The rates of coronavirus in Wales are now the lowest in the UK, our vaccination rates are the highest in the UK.
“And that has created some extra headroom for us to be able to continue what we’ve been doing now for quite a few cycles.
“We continue to proceed in Wales in a cautious step-by-step way. But the fact that we have these low rates is the product of that way of doing things.
“It’s because we’ve done it in the way we have that we’re now able to accelerate some of the decisions because the prevalence of coronavirus has fallen to the lowest extent we’ve seen since the summer.”
Play centres in Wales can reopen on May 3[/caption]
He said Wales was seeing the “positive effects of vaccination” – contradicting Boris Johnson who has claimed lockdown is behind the UK’s reduction in cases.
Mr Drakeford said: “Three weeks ago the prevalence rate was 35 per 100,000. That’s today fallen to less than half of that, it’s below 15.
“We need now to see those numbers held up where they are. The more you open up society it’s inevitable coronavirus will begin to circulate.
“So, my message to people in Wales today will be that coronavirus is not over.
“We all have to go on being vigilant. We all have to go on doing the things that make a real difference and has led us being in today’s benign position.”
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has also sped up her plans to exit lockdown in response to low Covid rates.
Her move means pubs north of the border are set to reopen to customers indoors from Monday – three weeks ahead of those in England.
But the PM has stuck doggedly to his roadmap in England, despite insisting the Government is following “data, not dates”.
Tory MPs have repeatedly urged him to speed up the rolling back of restrictions in response to the UK’s soaraway jabs programme.
Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid research group, said: “The NHS has done a brilliant job at vaccinating groups that are vulnerable to Covid.
“Those accounting for around 99% of deaths and around 80% of hospital admissions have now received protection.
“On that basis we should be opening up society and relaxing these devastating restrictions, lockdowns and regulations.”
It comes as it emerged Britain is no longer in a Covid pandemic as data shows the jabs rollout has cut symptomatic infections by 90 per cent.
The virus has now dropped to the third biggest killer in England for the first time in six months as millions of Brits have now received their first and second jab doses.
Data from the first large real-world study of the impact of vaccination shows jabs slash infection and are likely to cut transmission.
Just one dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines leads to a two-thirds drop in coronavirus cases and is 74 per cent effective against symptomatic infection.
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UK ‘no longer in a pandemic’ as jab rollout slashes Covid infections by 90%
And two doses of Pfizer, there was a 70 per cent reduction in all cases and a 90 per cent drop in symptomatic cases – the people who are most likely to transmit coronavirus to others.
One of the new studies, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is based on data from the national Covid Infection Survey run by the University of Oxford and the Office for National Statistics.
Sarah Walker, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at Oxford and chief investigator on survey, said Britain had “moved from a pandemic to an endemic situation”, the Telegraph reports.