Wales lockdown rules: What are the latest restrictions?
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced further details into how the Welsh government plans to ease lockdown measures in the coming months.
Mr Drakeford told a press conference on Apr 1 that all school and university students will be allowed to return to classrooms from April 12. Non-essential retail can also reopen and people will be able to travel in and out of Wales from this date.
Outdoor hospitality in Wales, including pubs, restaurants and cafes will commence from Apr 26 and outdoor entertainment venues will also be able to resume.
The First Minister also went on to say that people from 2 households will be allowed to meet indoors from May 10. On the same date, gyms and indoor exercise venues will reopen for individual training.
However, Mr Drakeford did warn that these dates are subject to change, should there be an alteration in the coronavirus data.
“All of these dates are provisional and are, of course, subject to the public health situation at the time.
“We are dealing with a very different virus this time. It is fast-moving and unpredictable. I want to be able to carry on with this programme of unlocking restrictions.”
The news comes as vulnerable people in Wales are no longer being advised to shield, following the lifting of the ‘stay local’ rule.
At present, people living in Wales are allowed to travel anywhere in the country, although leaving or entering the country is not prohibited, except in permitted circumstances, until Apr 12 at the earliest. Self-contained accommodation can open to people from the same household or support bubble.
Up to six people from two different households can also meet outdoors, while organised outdoor activities and sports for under-18s will also be allowed to restart.
In addition, from Mar 1, the law was changed to allow licensed wedding venues, such as visitor attractions and hotels, to re-open but only to perform wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.
The Welsh Government formally reviews Covid-19 regulations – including school closures – every three weeks, with the next review due by Apr 12.
What are the latest restrictions?
Currently, people from two households can meet in gardens and residents of care homes will be allowed a single visitor indoors. Outdoor sports facilities such as basketball and tennis courts and golf courses have reopened, as have hairdressers and barbers.
All primary school pupils have returned to face-to-face teaching, along with exam-year students in secondary schools. Non-essential retail can re-open on a gradual basis, with shops such as garden centres opening their doors again.
Most recently, the ‘stay local’ message ended and people are now allowed to travel anywhere in Wales. Self-contained holiday accommodation are also permitted to reopen.
Here is the roadmap set out by the Welsh government to ease restrictions in Wales:
From Apr 12 – All shops, including close contact services, will be able to re-open. All students will return to schools and universities. A number of pilot outdoor gatherings, including cultural and sporting events will be permitted by the Welsh government. Travel in and out of Wales will also be allowed.
From Apr 26 – outdoor hospitality will resume for pubs, restaurants and cafes. Outdoor entertainment venues such as funfairs and theme parks will also be able to open their doors.
From May 3 – Organised outdoor events for a maximum of 30 people will be permitted, including wedding receptions.
From May 10 – 2 households will be allowed to meet indoors. Gyms and indoor exercise venues will open for individual training. Exercise classes indoors will not be permitted.
From May 17 – community centres will be able to reopen and children’s indoor activity centres will be able to resume service.
How is Wales’ vaccine rollout going?
As of Mar 31, Public Health Wales said a total of 1,427,183 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had now been given in Wales.
The agency said 437,937 second doses had also been given.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said the NHS was making “rapid progress” in vaccinating priority groups five to nine.
Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Government briefing, “Almost 40% of people in their 50s and 62% of people in group six – that’s people with an underlying health condition – have had their first dose.
“More than 318,000 people have completed the full two doses and we have the highest second dose vaccination rate in the UK.”
Wales became the first country in the UK to achieve its target of offering coronavirus vaccines to everyone in its first four priority groups on Feb 12, with Mr Drakeford calling the milestone a “truly phenomenal effort”.
“At Easter time, Welsh people will be able to travel for holidays over Easter within Wales, and to self-contained accommodation,” Mr Drakeford said.
“The rules in England will not permit that. The Prime Minister’s road map says that for the weeks after Mar 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight.
“If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales.”
However, Mr Drakeford said if coronavirus numbers remain stable, then travel in and out of Wales could be permitted by the next review on Apr 12.
Mr Drakeford also said he has “anxieties” about the resumption of foreign travel from as early as May 17.
He told BBC Breakfast that September 2020 was a “difficult month” in Wales as people returned to the country from holidays abroad and brought Covid-19 with them.
“I do not want to see all the hard work that people in Wales have put in over recent weeks being undermined by the reimportation of the virus,” he said.
The First Minister has announced that an extra £150m is available to help businesses which are not yet able to open.
This will help top up the non-domestic rates grants.
Mr Drakeford said it means hospitality, tourism, leisure and non-essential retail businesses, which must remain closed will be eligible for a third payment of between £4,000 and £5,000 to help them meet ongoing operating costs while they cannot trade.
“This is in top of the announcement earlier this week extending the business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses for the whole of the next financial year,” Mr Drakeford added.
“We have made well in excess of £2bn available to businesses over the course of the last year to help them through the pandemic, which is over and above the support available from the UK Government’s schemes.
“This is the most generous business support scheme available in the UK. I’m very pleased we’ve been able to safeguard more than 160,000 jobs in these most difficult of times.”
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