CORONAVIRUS case rates across Wales have now been below 50 per 100,000 people for a number of days, and many other indicators show the situation has been improving across the country.

First minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce some easing of restrictions tomorrow, Friday, with the ‘stay at home’ message likely being replaced by ‘stay local’.

However, people have pointed to the Welsh Government’s Coronavirus Control Plan, published in December, which set out the indicators for moving between each of the four alert levels, citing that Wales is currently meeting the conditions for tier one or two, which would allow most businesses, schools, pubs, gyms, and entertainment venues to re-open.


Wales’ seven-day rolling case rate, 42.8 per 100,000 people, meets the alert level one threshold (less than 50 per 100,000 people), while a test positivity rate of 4.5 per cent puts it firmly in the alert level two bracket (between three and five per cent).

Hospital admissions are also low, with two per cent of hospital admissions known to be positive before admission, and one per cent testing positive on admission in the week ending March 7. Of the 736 people admitted to critical care in that week, 10 people were known to be positive when admitted, and two tested positive on admission.

So with these positive indicators, why is Wales still in lockdown?

In February, the Welsh Government moved away from the December Coronavirus Control Plan, publishing an updated plan, due to “a number of developments over the winter” - chiefly the vaccination programme and the emergence of the Kent variant as the dominant strain in Wales.

“How quickly we can move fully to alert level three, and the number of things we can do at each step are unfortunately not things we can set out in advance with dates,” the guidance reads. “We will need to continuously reassess the impact of previous relaxations, consider the headroom available to make more changes, and consider the latest evidence on VAMCs (Variants and Mutations of Concern) and the impact of vaccines.”

And speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, health minister Vaughan Gething said the December Coronavirus Control Plan could be a “useful guide” to indicating what areas will be first to reopen, but the measures for moving between the tiers were no longer being used.

“When we published our Coronavirus Control Plan with the figures and the headline indicators in numbers that we had, we were always clear that need to be judgments made – we’d need to take account of the scientific evidence and the public health advice we’d get from the chief medical officer's department and Public Health Wales on making decisions to both increase up the tiers that we introduced, but also to decrease as well," he said.

“We didn't know the full impact of the Kent variant of the time that we introduced the plan. We are much clearer now, it's much, much more infectious, [and] transmits much, much quicker.

“Now that's a very different challenge the one that we had in October, November, and the start of December.

“The Kent variant being dominant is why are much more cautious and that's the clear advice we're getting from our scientific advisors and the chief medical officer.

“The plan though and the tiers that it sets out of different activities are a useful guide of how we're approaching our path out of lockdown and the easements we’re considering.

“It set up the different risks for different activities and why we're considering some of those activities first.

“I think it's a useful guide, but you'll hear from the first minister, not just the choices we are making now, but a signal for what we may be considering next.

“Now that's a deliberate choice not to have the much longer term road map that the UK Government set out, but as you've heard from the deputy chief medical officer, that does have several hostages to fortune in a way we can't forecast with any degree of reasonable accuracy the position we’d be in in the middle of May or the end of June.”