By Vicky Witts | Head of Comment
As COVID-19 rules are gradually relaxing, and we are heading back closer to normality, it can be easy to forget why restrictions even exist.
However, as Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said, Coronavirus cases have “risen sharply to the highest rates we have seen since the pandemic first began”, demonstrating that whilst it feels like a thing of the past, COVID-19 is very much still present and many of us are still very much at risk.
Throughout the pandemic, Wales and England have followed similar general plans with how to tackle the virus, with some variation throughout. At present though, the Welsh Government are maintaining ‘stricter’ measures than those of their English counterparts.
In England, face-coverings are no longer required in most shops, and nightclub-goers are free to attend events how they wish. However, Wales in contrast, is continuing to enforce the use of face masks, and as of the 11th of October, people attending nightclubs or other events with large numbers of attendees are required to present an NHS COVID Pass to prove that they are either free from the virus with a negative test result or have been double vaccinated.
These differences have prompted questions about which government approach is the ‘best’ for keeping infection rates down, whilst allowing people to go about their normal lives.
On one hand, many have argued that the Welsh rules are too ‘strict’, as it is estimated that 95.2% of the UK population have had at least one vaccine as of the 27th of September 2021. The high number of vaccinated adults in the UK is encouraging, and it is understandable that many people see this as a sign that the country is safe enough that extra protection like face-coverings are not necessary.
As you can also still get the virus if you have been vaccinated, it may be said that tools such as COVID Passes for nightclubs are pointless endeavours, as it does not state that you are currently free from the virus, and so, you are still at risk of catching it if you attend such events.
On the other hand, COVID-19 rates are still high, and so the Welsh Government’s decision to prolong extra measures may be sensible.
Wearing a facemask, even if you are not worried about catching the virus yourself, may help other people around you to feel safer, as it does ultimately reduce the chance that you will pass it on to someone else.
COVID Passes for busy events, although not completely preventing outbreaks, do reduce the chances of someone who has COVID-19 attending, or the virus spreading, as people who have not had the vaccine (and thus are more likely to spread the virus), are unable to attend without proof that they have tested negative.
Whilst it is not clear with current COVID-19 statistics which approach is more effective, it is important to respect the rules in place in your area, and consider taking extra precautions if you feel that it will make yourself or those around you feel safer.Victoria Witts Comment