At midnight last night, the Welsh Government made another important announcement regarding further COVID-19 restrictions over the Christmas period.
Thankfully, the rate of infection in Wales continues to persist at around 500 cases per 100,000 people. However, it's important to note that the Delta variant remains the dominant strain in Wales, this is expected to change over the coming days.
The Omicron variant is fast moving and highly transmissible strain of COVID-19. As a consequence of this, Welsh Government has deemed it necessary to tighten messaging and introduce several new measures.
As set out last week, the First Minister is urging everyone to follow five simple steps for a safer Christmas. These include:
- Get vaccinated – much of our success over the past few months must be attributed to the vaccine and booster. If you’ve not had yours, please take the opportunity to get it.
- If you’re going out, going Christmas shopping or visiting relatives – take a test before you go. If it’s positive, self-isolate and follow government advice.
- Meeting outdoors is better than meeting indoors. If you’re meeting indoors, make sure it’s in a well-ventilated room.
- Space out your socialising – if you’ve got events arranged, please leave a day between them and test regularly.
- And don’t forget – hands, space, face. Wash your hands regularly, don’t forget social distancing, and wear a mask when required.
The regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.
It was also announced that all indoor and outdoor sporting events - at every level, professional and community - must take place without the presence of spectators. This regulation will come into force on Boxing Day.
On 27th December, other new legal restrictions will also come into force. These will mean the closure of nightclubs, a 2m rule in all office spaces and the introduction of extra measures in shops to protect customers and staff, such as one-way systems and physical barriers.
It is incredibly likely that these restrictions will change over the coming days. Should this occur, be rest assured that you'll receive another update from myself outlining what the new regulations are.
Preliminary data is showing that the Omicron is less virulent than Delta, however it is the speed at which it transmits which is of concern. This is especially true if a large number of key workers (NHS, police, fire service etc) all catch the virus quickly within a short period of time and are required to self-isolate.
In the meantime, please continue to get the booster jab and together we can reduce the viral transmission rate.