Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 require a review of the coronavirus restrictions is undertaken every three weeks. The most recent review was due today.
The public health situation in Wales continues to improve. The number of cases of coronavirus in our communities is stable and pressure on the NHS continues to ease.
The second milestone in the Welsh Government’s vaccine strategy will be reached this weekend. Everyone in priority groups 5 to 9 will have been offered a vaccination. This means any person aged 50 or over will have had at least their first vaccination or has been sent an appointment to attend in the coming days. The other milestone target of 1.5m first doses is also expected to be met next week.
I have made clear on a number of occasions, our top priority has been to enable children and students to return to face-to-face learning. As set out in my Written Statement of 12 March, all learners will return to on-site learning after the Easter holidays on 12 April.
We also remain on course to provide for all shops and close contact services to reopen on 12 April. In addition, restrictions on travel into and out of Wales from the rest of the United Kingdom and Common Travel Area are due to be lifted.
We will bring forward regulations next week that, subject to the public health situation remaining favourable will:
- Allow for all non-essential retail to reopen.
- Allow for all close contact services to resume, including mobile services.
- Remove travel restrictions within the UK and Common Travel Area.
- Include restrictions on international travel unless a person has a reasonable excuse.
- Remove restrictions on canvassing, subject to canvassers doing so safely.
- To allow for wedding ‘show-arounds’ by appointment in hospitality or other premises otherwise required to close.
Other relaxations due to take place on 12 April will not need amended regulations:
- Return to face-to-face teaching in all settings, including schools, FE, HE and others.
- Driving lessons to resume and some tests to restart (remainder on 22 April).
The Welsh Government is also developing a programme of pilot events that we hope will be able to take place in May. These pilot events will be for between 200 and 1,000 people and will build on the test events held last September. They will include cultural and sports events across Wales, including a potential stadium event. The Welsh Government is working with the Muslim Council to consider how the pilot programme could incorporate events to help people celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan. All events would be subject to Local Authority and public health agreement.
Cabinet has agreed to the approach to the next review cycle from 22 April, subject to the public health situation remaining favourable. This is consistent with the cautious and phased approach set out in the updated 'Coronavirus Control Plan: Revised Alert Levels in Wales' (March 2021).
From Monday 26 April:
- Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen.
- Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants. Indoor hospitality will remain closed except for takeaways.
From Monday 3 May:
- Organised outdoor activities for adults for up to 30 people can again take place.
- Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will also be limited to 30 people
From Monday 10 May:
- Gyms, fitness facilities, leisure centres and swimming pools can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training, but not group exercise classes.
- Extended household will be considered (an exclusive bubble of allow two households who can meet and have contact indoors)
The next review after those changes will take place on 14 May. It is much more uncertain what the situation might be at that time. Preparations will be made to allow an incoming government to consider further easements, including organised indoor activities, exercise classes, the reopening of community centres and the potential reopening of all accommodation and indoor hospitality, in order for them to be open before the Whitsun bank holiday at the end of May.
Businesses able to reopen have a legal responsibility to adhere to the rules and ensure the safety of their workforce and customers. Local Authorities have the power to close businesses who do not abide by the rules. The Welsh Government fully supports using those powers, if the rules are being broken.
I would again remind Members that coronavirus has not gone away. These changes provide a clear and responsible timetable for continuing to lift restrictions in response to the improving situation while ensuring we continue to keep Wales safe.