Wales begins to take first “confident steps out of lockdown” – these are the changes which will take affect this week
First Minister Mark Drakeford has said “today, we take the first steps out of lockdown” but has warned, “we can’t let our guard down” due to the “very infectious” strain of COVID-19 which took hold particularly in north east Wales.
“We need everyone’s help to carry on relaxing restrictions through the spring.” Mr Drakeford has said.
Today, we take the first steps out of lockdown.
But we’re in a very different situation to last year – a very infectious form of the virus is present across Wales.
We can’t let our guard down. We need everyone’s help to carry on relaxing restrictions through the spring. pic.twitter.com/PeDcpMWcdU
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) March 13, 2021
The “stay at home” requirement in Wales has been lifted today, 83 days after the country went into a third lockdown as COVID-19 cases began to spike.
The stay home restriction has now been replaced with “stay local” guidance.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a series of the changes on Friday as part of a “cautious and phased” approach to relaxing coronavirus restrictions.
From today, Saturday 13 March.
Stay at home restrictions will be lifted and replaced with new stay local guidance.
It means people can leave their homes and travel within their local area – usually within 5 miles.
“The 5-mile rule of thumb will be set out in guidance – people living in some parts of Wales, especially rural areas, may need to travel further than 5 miles to access shops and other public services.” The Welsh Government has said.
The new stay local guidance is expected to be in place until March 27 when it’s hoped all restrictions on travel will be lifted within Wales.
People can meet family and friends who live locally as long as it is outdoors (including private gardens).
- No more than 4 people from 2 households will be able to meet in their local area outdoors, including in gardens. Children under 11 and carers do not count towards this limit. There must be no indoors mixing and social distancing should be followed.
Outdoor sports courts, including basketball courts, tennis courts, golf courses and bowling greens, can reopen.
- A maximum of 4 people from 2 households can take part in activities using local sports facilities
Indoor care home visits can begin again with a single designated visitor.
- With the permission of the care home.
Given the Deeside’s proximity to the border with England, we asked the First Minister on Friday how will the new guidance on travel impact those living close to the border with England, and for clarity did the rule of thumb ‘stay local’ cover milage into England, or is cross border travel off limits?
Mr Drakeford said: “Our stay local message would not stop somebody from travelling into England but the minute they got into England, the rules there are still stay at home.”
“The problem is not with the Welsh rules in that sense, they would allow for somebody to go, but the minute you cross the border you’ll be breaching the regulations there.”
“So in effect [the five mile guidance] is for travel inside Wales, that this greater flexibility can be offered at this point.”
“I’m sure that in England they hope to move away from stay at home, reasonably soon as well.”
“As of tomorrow [Saturday] in Wales people will be able to travel locally, in England they will not, therefore if you’ve crossed the border and tried to travel you’ll be in breach of the English regulations.”
From Monday 15 March.
All primary pupils and those in qualifications years will return to education settings. Schools will have the flexibility to bring in year 10 and 12 pupils, to support them to progress to the next stage of their learning, and more learners will return to colleges.
There will also be flexibility for in-school check-ins for all other pupils. All learners will return after the Easter break.
Hairdressers and barbers can reopen by appointment only, “as long as they take all reasonable measures to minimise the spread of the virus” Welsh Government guidance states.
“You will be expected to provide contact details in attending a hairdresser or barber, and you are advised to attend your appointment alone if possible.” The guidance states.
The First Minister said: “We are taking a phased approach to unlocking each sector – starting with schools.
“We will make step-by-step changes each week to gradually restore freedoms.
“We will monitor each change we make, so we know what impact each change has had on Wales’ public health situation.”
Other planned changes:
From Monday 22 March:
The first steps to re-open non-essential retail will begin. Restrictions on the sale of non-essential items will be lifted for those shops, which are currently open.
Garden centres will also reopen.
An additional £150m will be available to support businesses to the end of March, which are not yet able to open.
The extra funding will see businesses in the hospitality, tourism, leisure and non-essential retail sectors that pay non-domestic rates qualify for an additional payment of up to £5,000.
During the third week of the review period, we will take stock of the latest evidence before confirming changes for the Easter holidays.
If the public health conditions continue to be favourable, from 27 March:
-The stay local restrictions will be lifted to allow people to travel within Wales.
-Self-contained holiday accommodation will re-open for one household.
-Organised children’s activities outdoors will restart, this includes team sports.
-Libraries will reopen.
The review on 1st April will consider whether all remaining shops and close contact services can reopen on the 12th April.
This is in line with planned re-opening in England.
First Minister Mark Drakeford added: “We need everyone’s help as we start to unlock these restrictions. We all need to follow the rules, maintain social distancing, good hand hygiene and to wear face coverings in indoor public places.
“We all want to see Wales re-open and the return of a more normal life. This is within sight – but only if we can keep the virus under control. No one wants us to have to reintroduce strict restrictions, to retreat from the progress we have made. Only by working together, can we help keep Wales safe.”
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