Coronavirus morning headlines as First Minister says that shops in Wales could re-open sooner than in England – Wales Online

Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Tuesday, March 2, as the First Minister Mark Drakeford said that non-essential shops in Wales could re-open sooner than in England.

During the latest Welsh Government briefing (Monday, March 1), he said that shops in Wales could start to open again from March 15 as long as coronavirus rates continue to fall.

He said the improving public health situation in Wales meant that freedoms may be restored here earlier than in England.

But it could be nearly a month before shops in England could re-open. The roadmap outlined by Boris Johnson for England last week had a date of April 12.

The First Minister told the briefing: “There are no plans in England to begin the reopening of non-essential retail until well into April. Read what he had to say here.

“I think the chances are that we will begin the reopening of those businesses earlier here in Wales than across the border.

“The figures that I’ve set out today are still significantly better in Wales than across the border and that will give us some opportunities to reopen parts of non-essential retail.”

But he did say that consideration needed to be given so it didn’t create what he described as “honey pot” circumstances.

“I’ve never been keen on border policing and I have never regarded the differences that we have had in the United Kingdom as a ‘border matter’,” he said.

“We will try and do it (the re-opening of shops) in a way that does not create honey-pot circumstances in which people who cannot go shopping in their part of the United Kingdom, would feel attracted to come into Wales. It will be careful, it will be cautious and it will be set-by set and it will be trying to avoid that set of circumstances.”

Non-essential retail, including hairdressers, restaurants, cafes, and pubs, were forced to close on December 20, when Wales entered alert level 4.

The Welsh Government will review the current coronavirus restrictions on March 12.

Optimism stay at home rule could be lifted soon

At the briefing, the First Minister also said he is “optimistic” that he will soon be able to lift the stay at home restrictions in place in Wales.

Mark Drakeford explained why he continues to not allow people to travel for exercise and what plans he has once the “stay at home” rule ends in just under three weeks. It could mean the return of the five-mile rule (which requires people to stay within five miles of their home).

People in Wales have not been allowed to to drive anywhere for exercise since December but people are now able to meet people from one other household for exercise. This, combined with the recent warm weather, has seen crowded parks, especially in Wales’ cities.

WalesOnline asked the First Minister why the rule which stopped people travelling for exercise remained in place when travel could actually relieve pressure on places like city parks and walking and cycling paths.

The First Minister indicated that he thought that lifting the ban on travel for exercise would drive up infection.

“The rates have fallen because of the restrictions that we have in place,” he said.

“If we hadn’t had the restrictions we undoubtedly wouldn’t have the success that we have been able to report in recent weeks.”

Three women found having hair dyed in a car park

Hundreds of people were fined for breaching coronavirus restrictions over the weekend including more than 100 people who attended one of eight house parties in Cardiff and three women who were caught having their hair dyed in a car park.

South Wales Police revealed that more than 370 people were fined in total for breaking the rules currently in place throughout Wales, which remains under an ‘Alert Level 4’ lockdown that was implemented on December 20. Man says he was strip searched after going for a lockdown ice cream at the beach

Despite the ongoing restrictions, police say the warm and pleasant weather seen across large parts of the country on Saturday and Sunday saw many people travelling to beaches and parks, while some gathered in numbers outdoors to drink alcohol.

Among those fined across the weekend included 13 people for non-essential travel to Penarth Pier, two people who were on their way from Newport for a day at a Swansea beach, 11 people who had travelled from various areas – including Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Cardiff, Warwickshire and Coventry – to visit Southerndown, and four people who had travelled to walk their dog in Cyfarthfa in Merthyr Tydfil.

Meanwhile, 105 fines were handed to attendees of eight different house parties in the Cathays area of Cardiff, while 13 others were caught at two parties in Barry. Read more here.

Coronavirus rate continues to fall in Wales

Three more people have died with coronavirus in Wales and close to 200 new positive cases have been identified.

Figures from Public Health Wales published on St David’s Day reveal that 193 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the latest 24-hour period, compared to 247 on Sunday. This brings the total since the start of the pandemic to 203,818.

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Wales within a month of a positive test now stands at 5,343.

The infection rate across Wales is now 64 cases per 100,000 population based on the seven days up to February 24, a drop on 67 cases reported on Sunday.

The latest data also shows that 925,669 people have now received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, up 2,054 from the figure of 923,615 published 24 hours earlier. That’s 29.36% of the population. On Wednesday the health minister announced that all adults in Wales will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by July 31.

Meanwhile, 103,819 people have now received both doses of the vaccine, a rise from 96,408 on Sunday. Cases for your area here.

Delaying second vaccine dose credited with saving ‘large number of lives’

The decision to delay second doses of Covid vaccine in an effort to jab more older people has been credited with saving a “large number” of lives, after data suggested hospital admissions are being greatly reduced by the rollout.

The “exciting” and “hugely reassuring” results from a Public Health England (PHE) study have indicated that the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing infections among those aged 70 and over.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said data showing vaccine effectiveness against illness of approximately 60% and a reduction in the likelihood of hospital admission by 80% after a single dose gives the “first glimpses” of how the jabs programme is working.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said the “bold” decision to delay the second dose so more older people could be protected by a single dose more quickly had saved lives.

He said: “These real world results from Public Health England demonstrate a very good effect from both vaccines after the first dose.

“The Covid vaccination strategy was designed to prevent as many deaths as quickly as possible.

“The bold decision to vaccinate more older people by delaying the second dose has undoubtedly saved a large number of lives.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the “exciting new data” as “extremely good news”.

He said the results may go some way to explaining why the number of Covid admissions to intensive care units among people aged over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in recent weeks.

France set to offer AstraZeneca jab to some older people

France will start allowing some people over 65 to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after initially restricting its use to younger populations because of limited data on the drug’s effectiveness.

While France first authorised the vaccine only for medical professionals under 65, Health Minister Olivier Veran said that it will soon be available to people over age 50 with health problems that make them vulnerable to Covid-19.

Mr Veran also said that people who have had the virus in recent months will only need one injection of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

France’s High Authority for Health has argued that recent infection acts as partial protection against the virus, so a second dose is not essential.

France has used less than a quarter of the 1.1 million AstraZeneca vaccines it received as of Friday, according to government data.

However, its vaccine campaign is expected to pick up in the coming days as more doses are delivered to family doctors and pharmacies.