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Caution the watchword as First Minister plots lockdown exit

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The Welsh Government is to adopt a more cautious approach in leaving the Covid-19 lockdown due to the emergence of the highly-infectious Kent variant of the virus.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said gyms and leisure centres, outdoor attractions, outdoor hospitality, weddings and organised indoor and outdoor activities could be allowed to resume from April 22 if virus rates remain stable and vaccination numbers continue to rise.

The Welsh Government’s updated Coronavirus Control Plan sets out how and when Wales will move out of lockdown as restrictions are relaxed.

It also takes into account the risk of new, potentially vaccine-resistant variants of coronavirus being imported into Wales from people holidaying and travelling overseas.

But if there are strong signs of a growth in infections, it also sets out how the relaxations may need to be slowed, paused or reversed.

This is a cruel virus. Far too many families have lost loved ones and unfortunately we know that many more people will fall seriously ill and sadly will die before the pandemic is over

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The coronavirus pandemic has turned all our lives upside down.

“Over the last 12 months everyone in Wales has made sacrifices to help protect themselves and their families and help bring coronavirus under control.

“This is a cruel virus. Far too many families have lost loved ones and unfortunately we know that many more people will fall seriously ill and sadly will die before the pandemic is over.

“But the way people and communities have pulled together across Wales, and followed the rules, has undoubtedly saved many more lives.

“We are now entering a critical phase in the pandemic. We can see light at the end of the tunnel as we approach the end of a long and hard second wave, thanks to the amazing efforts of scientists and researchers across the world to develop effective vaccines.

“Our amazing vaccination programme has made vaccines available to people in the most at-risk groups at incredible speed.”

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