Wales to extend Covid lockdown for three weeks sparking fears England will too
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Wales faces at least three more weeks of lockdown.
On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce coronavirus restrictions will not be eased this month and residents must continue to stay-at-home.
It is likely to spark fears Boris Johnson's presentation of a roadmap out of lockdown on Monday could follow a similar message.
On February 22, the Prime Minister is expected to confirm plans will be in place for the high street and hospitality venues to reopen from March 8.
But with only small steps out of lockdown being announced in Wales on Friday, despite low infection rates, it could leave many feeling pessimistic.
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Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales: "If in three weeks' time the numbers are still falling, the positivity rate is falling, the R number's below one, hospital pressures continue to reduce, then I hope we'll be able to move beyond 'stay at home'."
It is good news for parents of children aged between three and seven-years-old in Wales though, as they will resume face-to-face learning from next Monday.
This is due to them being the least likely to transmit coronavirus and have greater difficulties with remote learning.
There will also be a green light for the returns of some vocational learners, including apprentices, to colleges in order to access training or workplace environments for their practical qualifications.
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Other school and sixth form pupils are likely to be allowed back in the classroom from March 15 if the country’s public health situation continues to improve, the Welsh Labour leader will add.
Mr Drakeford previously told the PA news agency that older primary and secondary schools will look to use blended learning when they do return to classrooms, with pupils only in school “some of the time” by mixing face-to-face teaching with online lessons.
When the Welsh Government reviews lockdown rules again in three weeks' time reopening non-essential retail and close contact services like hair salons will also be considered.
Wales is now recording its lowest Covid-19 infection rate since the end of September last year, with the country’s seven-day case rate now at 84 per 100,000 people, while one in three adults have received a vaccine.
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On Thursday, Public Health Wales said a total of 822,633 first doses of the vaccine had been given, an increase of 15,282 from the previous day, while second doses increased by 6,345 to a total of 19,342.
The agency also said there were a further 290 cases of Covid-19 in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 200,456.
It also reported another 14 deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,189.
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