Assembly Business Education Health and Care Services Plenary

Coronavirus timeline: Welsh and UK governments’ response

The timeline below highlights key announcements and legislation made by the UK and Welsh governments during the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be updating this page as the situation evolves.

Updated: 03 April 2020

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

The timeline below highlights key announcements and legislation made by the UK and Welsh governments during the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be updating this page as the situation evolves.

Up to date, official information about COVID-19, advice for the public, and the action being taken by the UK and Welsh governments can be found at the following links:

Virtual GP appointments

2 April 2020

A video consultation service is rolled out to all GP practices in Wales.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

2 April 2020

Following a rapid review of PPE across the UK, new UK wide guidance is published.

Extra economic support

30 March 2020

Wales’ First Minister announces a new £500 million Economic Resilience Fund to provide additional support to the Welsh economy, businesses and charities.

Statutory sick pay from day 1

28 March 2020

New regulations come into force in Wales, England and Scotland which allow statutory sick pay to be paid from the first day of an employee’s absence due to the coronavirus. This includes those who are unable to work due to having coronavirus symptoms and those in the household of someone with the symptoms.

New testing

28 March 2020

The Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, announces a new coronavirus testing plan for Wales. This includes the introduction of a new antibody test (being tested in the UK in the coming week) which will identify whether people have recently had the virus and if they have an immunity.

Personal protection equipment (PPE)

28 March 2020

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales makes a statement highlighting that a review of the UK guidance on the use of PPE will be carried out and simplified if possible.

Principality Stadium to become a field hospital

27 March 2020

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board announces that the Principality Stadium in Cardiff will be set up as a temporary hospital to provide 2,000 extra beds to the NHS. This will be supported by £8 million capital funding from Welsh Government.

In England, the ExCel conference centre in London will soon be ready for use as a temporary hospital. Two more temporary hospitals will also open in Birmingham and Manchester.

Closure of public paths and land

27 March 2020

Using the new powers to enforce social distancing, a number of public paths and land in Wales are closed including Snowdon, Pen y Fan and sections of the Pembrokeshire coast.

Support for the self-employed

26 March 2020

The UK Chancellor outlines a new income support scheme for self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus.

Police powers

26 March 2020

New regulations come into force giving the police powers to enforce social distancing in Wales and England. There is guidance on what these new powers do.

Carrying forward annual leave

26 March 2020

New regulations come into force across Great Britain allowing workers, who cannot reasonably take annual leave due to the coronavirus, to carry over their holiday into the next two leave years.

Coronavirus Act 2020

25 March 2020

Following agreement by both Houses of Parliament the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent.

Legislative consent

24 March 2020

Assembly agrees the Legislative Consent Motion on the Coronavirus Bill.

When the UK Parliament wishes to legislate on a subject which is devolved to the National Assembly for Wales, convention requires it to receive the Assembly’s consent before it passes the legislation in question. This consent is given through Legislative Consent Motions (LCMs).

Regulations to close holiday parks

24 March 2020

Regulations come into force to close holiday parks, camping sites, amusement arcades and indoor play centres. They also provide for the closure of certain public footpaths and land.

Coronavirus Bill Summary

23 March 2020

Senedd Research’s summary provides more information on the Bill and its implications for Wales.

Prime Minister’s address

23 March 2020

The UK Prime Minister addresses the nation – all people are now required to stay at home except for very limited purposes. Non-essential shops and community spaces will close, and gatherings of more than two people in public are prohibited. These measures are enforceable by the police and other relevant authorities. The First Minister of Wales makes a statement on the new measures.

Tourism clampdown

23 March 2020

The Welsh Government announces that caravan parks, campsites and tourist hotspots will be closed to visitors from today.

Travelling in Wales

22 March 2020

The First Minister says that “social distancing includes avoiding all but essential travel and if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it”.

Regulations to close businesses

21 March 2020

Regulations requiring the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises came into force in England and Wales.

Coronavirus job retention scheme

20 March 2020

The Chancellor announces the creation of a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where any UK employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover 80% of the salary of retained workers. The Scheme will cover the costs of wages backdated to 1 March 2020 and is initially set up to cover at least 3 months.

Forced closure of some businesses

20 March 2020

The Prime Minister announces that the Government are “telling cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight” as well as “nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres”.

Emergency bill introduced

19 March 2020

The Coronavirus Bill 2019-21 is introduced in the House of Commons.

Committee questions Minister on school closures

19 March 2020

The Education Minister appears before the Children, Young People and Education Committee to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on education, including the cancellation of this summer’s GCSE and A-level exams.

Schools in Wales close

18 March 2020

The Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, announces that the Easter break will be bought forward and schools across Wales “will close for statutory provision of education” by 20 March 2020

Health protection regulations for Wales

18 March 2020

Regulations come into force which provide for “the imposition of proportionate restrictions” on individuals where it’s suspected that they may have coronavirus. Similar regulations were made in England in February.

Welsh Government briefs Health Committee

18 March 2020

The Committee receive a technical briefing from the Chief Medical Officer on the response to COVID-19 in Wales, and from the Health Minister on the emergency legislation.

Emergency legislation

17 March 2020

The UK Government publishes details of the proposed measures to be included in the fast-tracked coronavirus legislation.

Statements to the Assembly

17 March 2020

The Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales; the Minister for Health and Social Services; and the Minister for Housing and Local Government made statements in Plenary on COVID-19.

Support for business

17 March 2020

The Minister for Finance, Rebecca Evans, announced support for small businesses in Wales. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less with receive 100% reduction in business rates, and pubs with a rateable value between £51,000 and £100,000 with receive a £5,000 reduction.

Assembly business revised

17 March 2020

Assembly business will prioritise COVID-19 and all non-time-critical business is suspended. The Senedd building closes to visitors.

Updated advice and social distancing

16 March 2020

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, updated advice that if anybody in a household has a new continuous cough or high temperature the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days.

The Prime Minister also said that all non-essential contact and unnecessary travel should stop, and people should start to work from home where possible. The UK Government said they “will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers”. This social distancing is particularly important for those over 70 years old, pregnant women and those with some health conditions (guidance can be found here).

Suspension of non-urgent NHS appointments

13 March 2020

Vaughan Gething announces the suspension of a number of NHS services including non-urgent outpatient appointments and non-urgent surgical admissions and procedures. The Minister says that “these actions will allow for services and beds to be reallocated and for staff to be redeployed and retained in priority areas”.

Statutory sick pay regulations

13 March 2020

New regulations come into force across Wales, England and Scotland that those who are self-isolating, in line with guidance relating to COVID-19, are deemed to be incapable of working and are entitled to statutory sick pay.

Delay phase

12 March 2020

The UK has moved into the delay phase and the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from ‘moderate’ to ‘high’. New advice issued says to self-isolate for 7 days if you develop a high temperature or a new continuous cough. You do not need to go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. It’s recommended to only phone 111 if you’re symptoms don’t get better after 7 days or your condition gets worse.

Video health consultations

12 March 2020

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, announces that a web-based service will allow people who are self-isolating to speak to and receive advice from NHS healthcare professionals via video.

Pandemic

11 March 2020

World Health Organization describes COVID-19 as a pandemic, but emphasises that this “does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do”. (The term ‘pandemic’ refers to the spread of a new, infectious disease across multiple countries, rather than its severity or numbers of cases/deaths).

Budget 2020

11 March 2020

The UK Chancellor announces a £12 billion package of measures to support public services, individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. This includes additional funding for services, statutory sick pay changes, and a temporary increase in the Business Rates retail discount (which would be in England only). The Welsh Government welcomes the announcement, but wants further clarity about how the measures will be funded in full. “We are in ongoing discussions with the UK Government to ensure Wales gets the funding it needs to deal with the impact, especially in the context of the pressures our demographic makeup could present”.

‘COBRA Cymru’

10 March 2020 The First Minister confirms that a core ministerial group has been established and is meeting weekly, “to make sure that we are in a position to respond urgently and immediately where such a response is necessary”. The Health and Social Services Minister also highlights that NHS Wales’ Chief Executive is establishing an ‘NHS Wales and social services planning and response team’, which will “provide ongoing support, co-ordination and integration of the health and social services response”.

Containment phase

09 March 2020

The UK Prime Minister chairs an emergency COBRA meeting, attended by the First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister announces that the UK remains in the first ‘containment’ phase of the outbreak, but that extensive preparations are being made for a move to the ‘delay’ phase.

Emergency legislation

08 March 2020

UK Government outlines further detail on proposed measures expected to be included in an upcoming COVID-19 Emergency Bill. The legislation, which will apply across the four UK nations, provides Wales with emergency powers to respond to the outbreak, including closing schools and colleges if necessary to stop the spread of the virus.

Guidance for care settings

06 March 2020

Welsh Government publishes guidance for social, community and residential care settings on COVID-19 (updated 11 March 2020).

Notifiable disease

05 March 2020

The Health Protection (Notification) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 are made, making COVID-19 a notifiable disease in Wales. Equivalent regulations for England were made the same day. Scotland was the first UK country to make COVID-19 a notifiable disease (from 22 February 2020), followed by Northern Ireland (29 February 2019).

Health Committee briefed

04 March 2020

A special meeting of the Welsh Cabinet is held. The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee receive a technical briefing from the Director General of Health and Social Services and NHS Wales’ Chief Executive, the Chief Medical Officer, and Public Health Wales’ lead.

UK action plan

03 March 2020

UK Government publishes its Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect. This joint action plan between the UK Government and devolved Governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland sets out a phased response to the virus. This includes the ‘contain phase’, the ‘delay phase’, a ‘research phase’ through to the ‘mitigate phase’.

First case in Wales

28 February 2020

Wales’ first coronavirus case confirmed. The patient had travelled back to Wales from northern Italy.

Guidance for education settings

21 February 2020

Welsh Government publishes guidance for educational settings about COVID-19 (updated 26 February 2020)

Health protection regulations

10 February 2020

For England, regulations were made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which provide health professionals with the powers to “keep individuals in isolation where [they] believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus”. In response, Wales’ Health Minister said he was considering whether similar legislation was needed in Wales. The Welsh Ministers do have powers to make equivalent regulations for Wales under the 1984 Act.

No NHS charges for overseas visitors

04 February 2020

The National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2020 are laid. These exempt overseas visitors from being charged for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in Wales. Equivalent regulations are also in force in England (from 29 January 2020).

Wash your hands

02 January 2020

The UK Government launches a public information campaign to advise on how to slow the spread of COVID-19, similar to the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ campaign and emphasising the importance of hand-washing. The Welsh Government said it was working with Public Health Wales to support the campaign.

UK risk level

31 January 2020

First UK coronavirus cases confirmed. The UK Chief Medical Officers advised an increase in the UK risk level from low to moderate. However, it was made clear that “this does not mean [they] think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed […] but that the UK should plan for all eventualities”.

Public health emergency

Coronavirus first seen in China

31 December 2019

A number of cases of pneumonia were reported in Wuhan, China, which were later identified as a new strain of coronavirus which had not been seen in humans before: the novel coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19 from 11 February 2020).

Our previous articles (from February and March) on COVID-19 provide some more detailed background information.


Article by Philippa Watkins and Lucy Morgan, Senedd Research, National Assembly for Wales

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