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Coronavirus: Lockdown restrictions could be eased in Wales

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
media captionThe first minister gave his thanks to children and young people in Wales

More lockdown restrictions could be lifted in Wales in weeks if the number of coronavirus cases continues to fall, the first minister has said.

But Mark Drakeford said he could not make "any promises" about reopening pubs and restaurants.

He said they were on the list of items which could change when restrictions are next overhauled.

The next lockdown announcement in Wales is expected on 19 June, a day after ministers have to review the rules.

Mr Drakeford said cases are falling from a high of about 400 a day at the start to around 50 new cases a day.

Three more people in Wales were announced on Monday to have died from coronavirus.

Speaking at the Welsh Government's daily coronavirus briefing, Mr Drakeford said that because the number of new cases is falling, "the risk of meeting someone with the disease and being infected by it is falling as well".

He said that if, at the end of next week, the number of people carrying the disease in Wales is still dropping, "we will have some headroom to go on in that careful and cautious way of lifting the restrictions in Wales".

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image captionDriving to beauty spots has been banned in Wales

England's pubs and restaurants may re-open earlier than planned after warnings of huge job losses.

But Mr Drakeford said he could not make "any promises" about re-opening the sector in Wales.

He said he would be meeting officials to consider the "long list" of potential changes for the next review this week.

"We reduce that list to a short list of the most possible ideas which we then look at greater detail next week," Mr Drakeford said.

"There are many many other requests that are being made of us," he added.

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image captionLockdown restrictions are reveiwed in Wales every three weeks

Restrictions were recently loosened to allow people to travel locally and meet individuals from another household.

Lockdown in Wales is controlled by the Welsh government in Cardiff, and in England by the UK government in London.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed timescales for when rules can be eased in England, such as non-essential retail on 15 June, Mr Drakeford has been reluctant to do so.

Making any changes would depend on the number of new cases continuing to fall, he said.

"We will have to select the careful measures we can offer to people in Wales while remaining safe from the risk that coronavirus could accelerate away from us again."

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image captionFacemasks will become compulsory on English public transport from 15 June

In England, face coverings will become compulsory on public transport from 15 June - there have been calls in Wales for the Welsh government to follow suit.

The World Health Organization has changed its advice, saying masks should now be worn where social distancing is not possible.

So far, the Welsh government has not recommended their use, although it has not discouraged people from using them either.

Mr Drakeford said his government was still "working on the detail" on whether to make the wearing of face masks in public mandatory.

"The way we do things in Wales is to prepare first and to announce second, not to announce and then work out what the announcement might have meant," he said.

He said further details would be given by the Health Minister Vaughan Gething on Tuesday.

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image captionMark Drakeford said he could give no promises on the return of pubs

The press conference also heard that health boards are training more staff to work in critical care, in case there is a second coronavirus peak in the autumn.

Mr Drakeford said normally there were 150 critical care beds available in Wales, but at the height of the pandemic "there were three times that number" and more staff were needed.

He said "everything was being done to prevent a second peak" but measures had to be put in place in case it did happen.

As well as training more staff in critical care, Mr Drakeford said a review was under way looking at the use of field hospitals.

"In the first wave we managed not to use all our field hospital capacity. Does that mean we have to shut it down? No," Mr Drakeford said.

"We still need to preserve that extra capacity to make sure that it is available to us should we need it in the autumn".

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