Wales has extended its coronavirus lockdown for at least another three weeks.
Mark Drakeford confirmed this lunchtime that the stay at home measures will need to remain in place for the time being.
‘The overarching stay at home measures will need to stay in place for another three weeks,’ the first minister told a press conference in Cardiff.
‘But we can make some further very modest changes to the regulations as we take the first cautious steps to relax a number of the strictest lockdown restrictions we have all been living with for so long.’
He said from tomorrow the rules will change to allow up to four people from two different households to exercise outdoors together.
‘This does not mean that it is permissible to drive somewhere to exercise, and it does mean exercising, not socialising,’ Mr Drakeford added.
He hinted at the further lifting of restrictions, including allowing professional athletes to train and play sports, and allowing wedding venues to reopen for marriage and civil partnership ceremonies only.
‘And as more people are living and working in care homes with the vaccine having been delivered, we will look again at that most difficult of issues – how to allow more visits in care homes to take place provided it can be done safely,’ he said.
On a positive note, the first minister said cases of Covid-19 are at the lowest level since the end of September.
Mr Drakeford said the seven-day incidence rate was around 84 cases per 100,000 people in the country, with positivity rates falling and the R number below 1.
‘There’s evidence the reductions in the community are now being seen in the NHS,’ he said.
‘The total number of people in hospital with coronavirus has fallen below 1,800 for the first time since early December and the number of people with coronavirus needing intensive care is 50% lower than at the peak of the pandemic.’
Mr Drakeford added almost 840,000 people in Wales have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, equivalent to one third of the country’s adult population.
‘We are on track to reach the next milestone, to offer vaccination to everybody in priority groups five to nine by the end of April provided that vaccine supplies also remain on course.’ he said.
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