WALES’ Health Minister has said that localised lockdown is ‘not off the table’ following outbreaks at meat factories in North Wales.

Speaking in a press call with North Wales media, Vaughn Gething told reporters that “no options are off the table” when it comes to potentially enforcing localised community lockdowns in the wake of hundreds of newly confirmed coronavirus infections stemming from meat processing plants in Wales.

He said: “No options are off the table, but what I would say is that, if people follow the advice they are given by our Test, Trace, Protect service then it would effectively operate as a smart, targeted lockdown. The individuals, the families and their contacts will be the people that are locked down and that will prevent community transmission. It will also mean that other parts of life can still continue.

“The challenge would come if we had to take further measures and people were not following that advice for whatever reason. That could have an impact on the business, and its ability to reopen safely. It could also have a wider impact on the community. I do not want to be in a position where we are having to close wider community assets because we are dealing with the grave and real prospect of community transmission.

“No option is off the table but if people follow the Test, Trace, Protect system then these measures are much less likely.”

He also addressed the localised outbreaks which have sparked concerns about the direction of the lockdown easing in the future – particularly in North Wales.

He said: “I have had a very constructive meeting with Ynys Mon local authority yesterday [June 25] and with officers and the leader and they had anecdotal evidence that a handful of people are still waiting on test results. We have actually managed to turn around 900 test results within a day – the problem is those handful that are still waiting on results are a cause of concerns for not only locals but from me and also the public health protection team and the health service.”

With regards to the outbreak in Wrexham, the minister said: “There appears to be a higher positivity linked to the site of 2 Sisters in Llangefni compared to Rowan Foods. But, Rowan Foods of course is a much larger operation with around treble the workforce.

“As ever, there is a mix of both employed staff and agency workers as well so I reiterate the points that the most important thing for people to be doing is follow the advice of Test, Trace, Protect and that they isolate if they should do.”

He adds that there lies a challenge with the employer that must balance maintain their operation but also ensuring that the workforce take these steps to ensure the virus does not continue to spread.

The site operated by 2 Sisters in Llangefni was closed for a two-week period – beginning on June 18. However, the Wrexham facility remains open for business at the time of printing, which has surprised locals.

On that matter, Mr Gething said: “We have had a team go in to inspect the business and we’ll have that report and a conversation with the employer, the health service, the Food Standards Agency and the trade union side to get a broad picture of what is happening.

“If it is clear that the right thing to do from a public health point of view is to ask that business to close, then we will do that. If that request does not go ahead then we have powers to close this or any other business.

“We are not looking to go after Rowan Foods and we are not at the point where there is any blame to be attached to this. It is the reality of any business that they may be affected and what they might need to do to protect their business and businesses employees as well as the wider community in which they operate.”

The latest figures confirmed at the Welsh Government’s daily coronavirus press conference by First Minister Mark Drakeford indicated that hundreds of employees at the impacted factory settings at Anglesey’s 2 Sisters site in Llangefni and Wrexham’s Rowan Foods have tested positive for the virus in recent days.

Broken down, the data provided claims that 204 cases were reported in Anglesey’s 2 Sisters, over 166 in Wrexham’s Rowan Foods and more than 33 linked with Kepak in Merthyr Tydfil.

The First Minister adds that outbreaks at meat processing plants in Wales continue to be monitored and said that "these outbreaks are a sobering reminder that coronavirus has not gone away"

He reiterated the importance of maintaining the basic social distancing rules – which still stand at two metres in Wales – and general handwashing/hygiene procedures.