Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 have to be reviewed every three weeks. The latest review was completed on the 7th January and concluded that Wales should remain at alert level 4. Non-essential retail, hospitality venues, licensed premises, leisure facilities will remain closed, and the clear ‘stay at home to save lives’ message remains in place for everyone in Wales.
Following the decision taken earlier in the week to move to online learning in all schools and colleges in Wales, this approach will continue and be brought in line with the three week review cycle. We will consider the approach to schools at the same time as the next review, which is due to take place by 29 January. Unless there is a significant reduction in cases of coronavirus before that review schools in Wales will continue to provide online provision until the February half term. Vulnerable children and those of key workers will still be able to undertake face to face learning.
We will use the coming weeks to work with our scientists, unions and local authorities to plan for the future. We will work together to look at all the possibilities for a phased, and safe, return of some pupils during this period, including those studying for exams and the youngest children who find distance learning the most difficult.
Schools have not suddenly become unsafe; they do not pose an increased risk to teachers or students. However, keeping schools open does encourage children and adults to mix – inside and outside the school gates – at a time when cases of coronavirus are high in the community and there is a very infectious strain spreading quickly.
We are clarifying that all showrooms must close. They will still be able to operate click and collect arrangements.
The Welsh Government is working with industry and trade unions to review and strengthen measures in essential retailers, including supermarkets, and in open workplaces. People who cannot work from home and those that need to access essential retail in person need to be protected as far as possible, and for people to be supported to work from home where possible. We will put these requirements into regulations where necessary and look at how enforcement might be improved.
We understand that maintaining restrictions is challenging for everybody but if we work together we can protect the NHS and save lives.