First Minister Mark Drakeford warns Welsh not to sneak to England for a pint on April 12
Key dates as the Welsh lockdown is eased
Schools can fully reopen to all pupils following Easter while all post-16 learners will return to further education and training centres and university campuses will be able to open for blended face-to-face and online learning for all students;
All remaining non-essential shops can reopen;
Close contact services like massage therapists and tattooists can open again and this includes mobile services;
Travel into and out of Wales from the UK and Common Travel area (the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and the Republic of Ireland) is permitted but travel to any other country requires a reasonable excuse, such as work or compassionate grounds;
Viewings at wedding venues can resume by appointment;
Outdoor canvassing for elections can begin;
Driving lessons can resume
Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, would be allowed to re-open;
Hospitality can resume outdoor service including at cafes, pubs, and restaurants but indoor hospitality will remain restricted;
Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can take place;
Weddings receptions can take place outdoors but will also be limited to 30 people;
Gyms, leisure centres, and fitness facilities can re-open. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes;
Extended households will again allow two households to meet and have contact indoors;
Wales would enter alert level three;
Children’s indoor activities would be able to resume;
Community centres would be able to re-open;
Organised indoor activities for adults, including exercise classes, would be allowed to resume limited to a maximum of 15 people;
After May 17 consideration will be given to enabling indoor hospitality and remaining visitor accommodation to re-open ‘in advance of’ the Spring Bank Holiday on May 31
First Minister Mark Drakeford warned thirsty Welsh drinkers they would ‘put themselves in harm’s way’ if they went to English pubs for a pint, as he ordered Wales’s pubs to reopen a full two weeks after those on the other side of the border.
He confirmed today that pubs, restaurants and cafes can resume outdoor services in Wales on April 26 as it slowly inches its way out of lockdown.
But cross-border travel between the country and the rest of the UK will be allowed from April 12, which is the same day English pubs are expected to reopen for outdoor customers.
Addressing the delay in reopening Welsh pubs today, Mr Drakeford told a press conference that mirroring the English reopening had been deemed ‘not advisable on public health grounds’.
‘I understand completely why people will want to see the reopening of outdoor hospitality in Wales as quickly as possible. People know now it will be reopening on April 26,’ he said.
‘I can’t imagine why anyone with regard for their own safety and that of their family and friends would want to put themselves in harm’s way.
‘The levels of coronavirus are higher in the north west of England than in north east Wales, and the Bristol variant which we have kept out of Wales up until now, would be something that anyone thinking of travelling in that direction would want to take into account. I hope people think very carefully about the way in which they use these new freedoms.’
Mr Drakeford also revealed that a number of ‘outdoor pilot events’ would be allowed to go ahead from April 12. They will see crowds of up to 1,000 allowed at ‘cultural and sporting events’, including Eid celebrations in early May.
Currently fans are not expected to be allowed into English stadiums until May 17 at the earliest.
Welsh gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen from May 10 while organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions, both limited to 30 people, will be allowed from May 3.
A raft of lockdown-easing measures including groups of six or two households allowed to meet in outdoor spaces including private gardens were also confirmed.
In Northern Ireland, up to six people from two households are allowed to meet in a private garden today, while outdoor sports facilities reopen with up to 10 people including children from two households permitted to be together.
The Welsh Government said that the changes, subject to Wales’ public health situation, were part of its ‘step-by-step’ approach of relaxing rules and took account of the now-dominant and highly-infectious Kent strain of Covid-19.
It said that the number of cases of the virus in Wales was ‘generally falling’ and that pressure on the NHS was continuing to ease. However, the First Minister said ‘we can’t let our guard down’ and urged ‘we still need to do our part to keep this deadly disease at bay’.
All school pupils and post-16 learners can return to face-to-face teaching, and university campuses can reopen for blended face-to-face and online learning for all students from the same date.
Addressing the delay in reopening Welsh pubs, Mr Drakeford told a press conference that mirroring the English reopening had been deemed ‘not advisable on public health grounds’
People on the sand at Langland Bay, Swansea
Britain’s coronavirus infection rate is now significantly lower than 25 of the EU’s 27 countries as the UK’s daily Covid cases plunge by 28 per cent in a week, official figures have revealed
The Welsh Government said it working with the Muslim Council to try to incorporate the trials to help people celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.
From Monday May 3, organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions for up to 30 people can take place.
A week later, on May 10, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen for individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.
Rules will also allow two households to meet and have contact indoors.
The Government also said it would make preparations so whichever party leads the country after the May 6 Welsh Parliament election could consider allowing children’s indoor activities, community centres, and organised indoor activities for adults for up to 15 people to resume from Monday May 17.
After May 17, considerations could be made to enable indoor hospitality and remaining visitor accommodation to reopen in advance of the Spring Bank Holiday.
The Welsh Government said all the changes would see Wales move fully into Alert Level 3 by May 17, ‘subject to public health conditions remaining favourable’.
A spokesperson said: ‘These are indicative dates to give the sectors time to plan and prepare – decisions on these will be made nearer the time, once the impact of other relaxations have been assessed and subject to the health situation.’
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Drakeford said he hopes Boris Johnson will push back the potential May 17 date for the UK resuming international travel by the time he addresses the nation next week.
The First Minister of Wales added that he would encourage people in Wales to holiday domestically over the summer in place of a trip abroad.
‘I’ve long argued that it is over-optimistic, that it doesn’t reflect the risk of reimporting coronavirus from other parts of the world where there are new variants in circulation,’ he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Mr Drakeford said the newest lockdown in France in response to rising cases of Covid-19 there was evidence of ‘how close to this country some of those risks are currently being experienced’.
‘When the Prime Minister speaks next week I hope that he will say that date is having to be pushed back further into the future in order to go on protecting the United Kingdom against the developments we see elsewhere in the world’, he said.
Asked what he would say to people wanting a foreign break, he said: ‘I’d say that this is the year to have your holiday in Wales.
‘There are so many fantastic opportunities here. If ever there was a year to enjoy what we have domestically, and to find those spots in Wales that you haven’t visited before, this is the year to do it.’
Mr Drakeford said the Welsh Government would not seek to prevent people from travelling internationally if rules allow later in the year.
‘It’s not realistic to try to prevent people and we won’t make that attempt. What my advice to people in Wales would be this year, stay at home, enjoy what we have here. Don’t put yourselves and other people at risk.’
The Welsh Conservatives have accused Welsh Labour of delivering ‘nothing but poverty’ for the poorest communities and vowed to scrap all social distancing measures by June 21 if they win the Senedd election in May.
Senedd group leader Andrew RT Davies accused the Welsh Government of holding the economy in lockdown for two decades prior to the pandemic.
Speaking at the Welsh Tory conference, he charged: ‘Covid hasn’t just shown our communities at their best, it has laid bare the deep rooted problems that exist in Wales thanks to the Labour Party.
‘Because for Labour and the economy, we’ve been in a hard and fast lockdown for the last year, following a slow and deliberate lockdown for the last two decades. We have to change course, and turn the page.’
The party has published a roadmap for exiting lockdown, with Mr Davies saying the ‘cautious but irreversible plan will restore our freedoms in a safe and manageable manner’.
But Welsh Labour claimed ‘major parts of the plan are simply a cut and paste from the Downing Street website’.
Natasha Jenkins enjoys the sunshine in Aberavon beach, Wales
A man wearing a face mask walks pass Covid-19 sign outside an Asda supermarket in Wales
The UK’s vaccine rollout means it is now in the best position of all major European nations, despite being the worst hit in January
Lee Waters, Labour’s deputy economy minister, tweeted that the Tory call was ‘deeply irresponsible’ while ‘people are still being vaccinated’.
Mr Davies said: ‘Welsh Conservatives have been calling for a detailed roadmap for over a month, but our calls have been ignored by Labour ministers, who sadly believe if you give the Welsh public an inch, they will take a mile. We’ll change that concerning mentality.’
Britain’s coronavirus infection rate is now significantly lower than 25 of the EU’s 27 countries as the UK’s daily Covid cases plunge by 28 per cent in a week, official figures have revealed.
The UK’s vaccine rollout means it is now in the best position of all major European nations, despite being the worst hit in January.
The weekly infection rate in France, where intensive care units are overwhelmed, is around eight times higher than in the UK.
But President Emmanuel Macron blamed the so-called ‘British variant’ for the country’s surge in cases, saying it created ‘a pandemic inside a pandemic’ as France heads into its third national lockdown from Saturday.
He yesterday announced that all of mainland France will be under a 7pm curfew, working from home will be expected from those that can, gatherings will be limited, non-essential shops will be closed, and travel restrictions will be imposed.
In Germany, which recorded 23,681 cases on March 30, the infection rate is nearly three times higher.
Over the past week, the UK has recorded an average of 73 cases per one million people every day. This is a lower rate than all 27 EU nations apart from Denmark and Portugal, which have both adopted strict lockdowns.
Hungary, the worst affected EU nation, has a daily rate of 882 cases per one million.
In France it is 571, while the rate in the Netherlands is 449 and in Italy it is 334. As Europe battles a third wave, UK cases, deaths and hospitalisations have fallen to a six-month low.
On Wednesday, another 43 deaths and 4,052 cases were recorded. Deaths are now averaging 50 a day, down from a peak of 1,284 deaths on January 19. It also marked a 56 per cent week-on-week drop in deaths on last Wednesday.
The contrasting fortunes of Britain and mainland Europe are largely down to our successful vaccination programme. Nearly six in ten adults in the UK have now received at least one dose.
But across the EU, just 11 per cent of the population have been vaccinated.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens is urging all over-50s and younger people with health conditions yet to be vaccinated to book an appointment now.
During April the NHS will focus on second doses but appointments for all over-50s not yet protected will also be available.
Yesterday, the number of second doses of Covid-19 vaccine outnumbered first doses for the first time.
A total of 270,526 second doses were registered on March 30, compared with 224,590 first doses, according to government figures. Previously the number of first jabs per day had always exceeded second jabs.
A total of 4.1million people in the UK are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, around one in 13 adults.
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