A three-to-five day window which would allow people greater freedom over the Christmas period for travel and spending time with loved ones is “possible”, the Welsh Health Minister has said.
Vaughan Gething has not ruled the possibility that any coronavirus restrictions in the lead up to Christmas could be relaxed for a number of days in what is likely to be a “four-nation approach”.
Appearing on BBC’s Politics Wales on Sunday morning, Mr Gething was asked by presenter James Williams about reports that the UK Government are expected to announce an update on Monday about any restrictions that will be in place after England comes out of lockdown on December 2, and what the situation will be like moving towards the festive period.
“I’m not sure they are going to announce their plans for Christmas tomorrow – we will see what the Prime Minister says,” said Mr Gething, who added that advice will be taken from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales when discussing the potential proposals for Christmas.
“The First Minister had another constructive conversation with Michael Gove and the First Ministers across the UK so we are still talking about the approach for Christmas and we will hope to be in a position to announce the same measures at the same time.
“That is certainly what we are working towards, and we would like to do it as soon as possible. “
When asked directly about whether it was possible to ease the rules – depending on what rules are in place at the time – and have a window of travel which would last for a period of between three and five days around Christmas Day, Mr Gething said: “It might be. We are looking at a time frame that would allow people to travel.”
“What we are saying to people here in Wales – there is a commitment to have a four-nation approach as far as possible to make it easier for people to understand what they can do and to help people to do the right thing.”
Mr Gething also admitted that “anything is possible” when asked about further and tighter restrictions being reimposed in Wales before Christmas, and went on to discuss the likelihood of a vaccine against Covid-19 being used in Wales before the turn of the year.
“A vaccine before Christmas is possible but that all depends if the first vaccine goes through all of its regulatory and safety checks,” he said.
“If it’s available for Christmas we have a plan to start vaccinating people this calendar year. To get population coverage that depends on other vaccines becoming available and we are not in control of that because each one of these vaccines has to go through not just successful trials but then regulatory approval.
“That’s really important for the public confidence you need for a high take-up of any vaccine programme.”