Outdoor events for 10,000 people will return in Wales from Monday
4th June 2021

Outdoor events for 10,000 people will return and three households can meet indoors in Wales from Monday despite ‘growing concern’ over Indian variant

  • Groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors, including in private garden 
  • Meanwhile, up to three households can form an extended bubble indoors 
  • Outdoor events will resume for up to 4,000 standing and 10,000 seated
  • The phased relaxing of coronavirus measures will be reviewed ahead of June 21

Outdoor events with up to 10,000 people will be able to resume in Wales from Monday as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are further eased.

Groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors, including in private gardens.

Meanwhile, up to three households can form an extended bubble meaning they can meet indoors as the country moves to alert level one.

Larger organised outdoor events – such as concerts, football matches and sporting activities – will resume for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated.

The phased relaxing of coronavirus measures will be reviewed ahead of June 21 to determine whether indoor events can restart.

England is slightly ahead of Wales with its roadmap. On May 17, a rules change meant outdoor venues were allowed to hold 4,000 people – with Wembley Stadium able to welcome 10,000 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the emergence of the Indian variant, also known as the Delta variant, showed the pandemic was ‘not yet over’ and that steps must continue to be taken to reduce transmission.

Outdoor events with up to 10,000 people will be able to resume in Wales from Monday as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are further eased. Pictured: First Minister Mark Drakeford

Larger organised outdoor events – such as concerts, football matches (a match in May, pictured) and sporting activities – will resume for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated

The Department of Health revealed there were 5,274 positive tests in the past 24 hours, the highest number since March 26, when the UK was under much stricter lockdown rules

ENGLAND’S ROADMAP: On May 17, a rules change meant outdoor venues were allowed to hold 4,000 people – with Wembley Stadium able to welcome 10,000

He said: ‘The risk of infection is significantly less outdoors than it is indoors. This is why we are phasing in the changes in this three-week cycle.

How lockdown measures are being eased across the UK

Up to 30 people will be able to meet outdoors as restrictions are further eased in Wales from Monday.

The Welsh Government said the country will begin a phased move into alert level one from June 7, allowing for large outdoor events to resume.

Here is how restrictions are being relaxed across the four nations of the UK:

What is happening in Wales?

Groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors, including in private gardens, while up to three households will be able to meet indoors from June 7.

Larger organised events, such as concerts, football matches and sporting activities, will resume for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated.

The phased relaxing of coronavirus measures will be reviewed ahead of June 21 to determine whether indoor events can restart.

Live performances are already allowed in hospitality venues, but they are still subject to strict public health restrictions.

Groups are currently limited to up to six people from six households, while two-metre distancing is required for audiences, and also for performers ‘as far as it is practical’.

Wales moved to Alert Level 2 on May 17, with the reopening of indoor hospitality and entertainment venues.

The reopening of indoor service for pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes as well as entertainment venues like cinemas came alongside allowing up to 30 people to take part in organised indoor events and up to 50 people in organised outdoor events.

Up to 30 people are allowed at weddings, and the cap on the number of mourners attending funerals was lifted, in line with the safe capacity of the venue.

Secondary school pupils no longer need to wear face masks in class and communal areas, and university students could return to campus for in-person lectures.

The ‘stay in the UK’ restriction was also lifted with people able to travel to ‘green list’ countries without having to quarantine, provided they take one post-arrival test.

What is happening in Scotland?

Plans to ease lockdown restrictions in much of Scotland have been paused, but the rules in Glasgow are set to relax from Saturday.

Glasgow, which had been under the strictest restrictions in Scotland, will see some relaxation of rules as the city moves to Level 2 from June 5.

On that date many island communities will move to Level 0 – the lowest level there is under the Scotland’s five tier system – while 15 council areas will step down to Level 1.

Edinburgh, Dundee and Stirling are among 13 local authority areas which will stay in Level 2 for the time being.

It had been hoped that most of Scotland would be able to move to Level 1.

The announcement means businesses in some areas, such as soft play centres, will not be able to reopen as planned.

What is happening in England?

Scientists continue to debate whether the Government should press ahead with the final stages of easing social restrictions later this month.

Downing Street has indicated Prime Minister Boris Johnson still sees nothing in the data to suggest the plan to end all legal lockdown restrictions on June 21 will need to be delayed.

From May 17, people in England have been able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, and indoors in groups of six, or two households.

Pubs and restaurants can serve customers indoors, although they are limited to table service.

Other recreational venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls were also allowed to reopen, although there are capacity limits on large events.

Up to 30 people are allowed at weddings, and the cap on the number of mourners attending funerals was lifted, in line with the safe capacity of the venue.

Secondary school pupils no longer need to wear face masks in class and communal areas, and university students could return to campus for in-person lectures.

The ‘stay in the UK’ restriction was also lifted, with people able to travel to green-list countries without having to quarantine, provided they take one post-arrival test.

What is the latest in Northern Ireland?

Restaurants, cafes, bars and other hospitality venues in Northern Ireland can operate indoors, with six people allowed to sit together from unlimited households with table service only.

Six people from no more than two households will also be able to meet in private homes and stay overnight.

All tourism accommodation as well as indoor visitor attractions including amusement arcades, bingo halls, museums, galleries and cinemas can also reopen.

A limit on the size of outdoor gatherings, including the number of spectators able to attend sporting fixtures, will increase to 500.

Schools can resume extra-curricular activities, indoor extra-curricular sports, outdoor inter-school sports and day educational visits.

Non-essential travel is permitted to the rest of the UK, and a traffic light system is in place for foreign travel. 

‘This will allow more people to enjoy events outdoors and take advantage of the Welsh summer, while we continue to roll out the vaccination programme to all adults.’

Should cases remain low, more people will be allowed to attend outdoor and indoor events, the rule of six for meeting indoors in private homes will return, and ice rinks will reopen, the Welsh Government said.

Organisers planning events from Monday must undertake a full risk assessment and put in place measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The seven-day coronavirus case rate remains ‘very low’ in Wales, while more than 85 per cent of the population has had one dose of the vaccine and 45 per cent has had both, the Government said.

However, there are some 97 cases of the Indian variant in the country, including a cluster in Conwy, north west Wales.

Last night, data showed people who have had the Pfizer vaccine have lower antibody levels targeting the Indian coronavirus variant than those against previously circulating strains in the UK.

A study by the Francis Crick Institute and the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre also suggests the levels of these antibodies are lower with increasing age and that levels decline over time.

Researchers say this provides additional evidence in support of plans to deliver a vaccine boost to vulnerable people in the autumn. But it could spark fears in some corners that the Pfizer jab is less effective in preventing serious illness from the more transmissible variant, known as Covid Delta. 

Public Health England said the variant appears to be twice as likely to lead to hospital admissions as the Kent strain which sparked the second wave, and has become dominant in the UK.  

Together with the emergence of a so-called Nepalese variant, the data could persuade ministers to pause the final easing of restrictions due to take place on June 21, which is being dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.

The UK yesterday recorded more than 5,000 cases for the first time since March, while 18 deaths were announced.

The new laboratory data also supports current plans to reduce the dose gap between vaccines.

The study found that after just one dose of the Pfizer jab, people are less likely to develop antibody levels against the Indian (B.1.617.2) variant, also known as Delta, as high as those seen against the previously dominant Kent variant (B.1.1.7) also known as Alpha.

However, levels of antibodies alone do not predict vaccine effectiveness and prospective population studies are also needed. Lower neutralising antibody levels may still be associated with protection against Covid-19, the experts say.

Pfizer has been contacted for comment. 

The Indian variant is now believed to be dominant in the UK, with early evidence suggesting it may lead to an increased risk of being admitted to hospital compared with the Kent variant.

A total of 12,431 cases of the mutation have been confirmed in the UK up to June 2, according to Public Health England. This up 79 per cent from the previous week’s total of 6,959.

Emma Wall, UCLH Infectious Diseases consultant and senior clinical research fellow for the Legacy study, said: ‘This virus will likely be around for some time to come, so we need to remain agile and vigilant.

‘Our study is designed to be responsive to shifts in the pandemic so that we can quickly provide evidence on changing risk and protection.

‘The most important thing is to ensure that vaccine protection remains high enough to keep as many people out of hospital as possible.

‘And our results suggest that the best way to do this is to quickly deliver second doses and provide boosters to those whose immunity may not be high enough against these new variants.’

This is the largest study published to date investigating vaccine-induced antibody neutralising capacity against the newest variants of concern in healthy adults.

Researchers have submitted their findings to the Genotype-to-Phenotype National Virology Consortium (G2P-UK), the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Legacy study is led by the Crick and partners at UCL and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH).

Healthcare workers and staff from the institutions have been donating regular blood and swab samples so researchers can track the changing risk of infection and response to vaccination. 

Within days of having enough of each variant to study, researchers analysed antibodies in the blood of 250 healthy people who received either one or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, up to three months after their first dose.

They tested the ability of antibodies to block entry of the virus into cells, so called neutralising antibodies against five different variants – the original strain from China, the dominant strain in Europe during the first wave in April 2020, and the variants first detected in Kent, South Africa and India.

Data from previous studies suggests that higher antibody titres – the greatest dilution level that still blocks 50 per cent of virus infection in the lab – is a good predictor of vaccine efficacy and greater protection against Covid-19.

According to the research, in people who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, levels of neutralising antibodies were more than five times lower against the Indian variant when compared to the original strain, upon which current vaccines are based.

This antibody response was even lower in people who had only received one dose. 

After a single dose of the Pfizer jab, 79 per cent of people had a quantifiable neutralising antibody response against the original strain, but this fell to 50 per cent for B.1.1.7, 32 per cent for B.1.617.2 and 25 per cent for B.1.351 (South Africa).

David LV Bauer, group leader of the Crick’s RNA Virus Replication Laboratory and member of the G2P-UK National Virology Consortium, said: ‘New variants occur naturally and those that have an advantage will spread.

‘We now have the ability to quickly adapt our vaccination strategies to maximise protection where we know people are most vulnerable. Keeping track of these evolutionary changes is essential for us to retain control over the pandemic and return to normality.’

The Research Letter published in The Lancet states: ‘These data, together with epidemiological data of B.1.617.2 growth, raise the possibility that this VOC (variant of concern) presents a dual challenge of reduced vaccine efficacy akin to the B.1.351 VOC, and increased transmissibility beyond the B.1.1.7 VOC.’

Eleanor Riley, professor of immunology and infectious disease, University of Edinburgh, said: ‘These data cannot tell us whether the vaccine will be any less effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation and death; we need to wait for the actual data on these outcomes.’

In the UK, there have been a total of 12,431 confirmed infections with the variant and 94 people were admitted to hospital with it last week. A PHE report said the risk of being admitted to hospital could increase by as much as 2.6 times over the Kent variant, and people may be 70 per cent more likely to go to A&E. 

That count of hospital admissions was double the week before, when 201 people went to A&E and 43 were admitted overnight. PHE said: ‘The majority of these had not been vaccinated.’ 

PHE said it was concerned that a single dose could be up to 20 per cent less effective than it was against the Kent variant. Dr Jenny Harries, chief of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘Please come forward to be vaccinated and make sure you get your second jab. It will save lives.’

Seventeen people are confirmed to have died from the mutant strain by May 23. Of these, 11 were unvaccinated, three had received one dose, two had both doses and it could not be established whether one individual had received a vaccine.

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