Lockdown in Wales eases as First Minister announces ‘stay local’ measures

Next step of the Welsh Government’s ‘careful and cautious’ approach to re-opening the country is announced

FIRST Minister Mark Drakeford has announced measures to ease lockdown restrictions in Wales and gradually re-open the economy.  

In today’s announcement, Mr Drakeford said: “It is your actions, and all of your sacrifices, which have helped to bring coronavirus under control.

“Our approach will continue to be careful and cautious. We will take a phased approach to unlocking each sector, as we already have with schools.

“If we all continue to work together, I hope that we can keep on taking steps to unlock Wales at each review during the spring.”

Here are the regulation changes confirmed by the Welsh Government today:

  • Saturday, March 13:

    Stay-at-home regulations will change to “stay local”.

    Four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens.

    Indoor care home visits for single designated visitors will be allowed.

  • Monday, March 15:

    Hairdressers and barbers will be able to re-open for appointments.

    All primary school pupils and children in qualification years will return to schools.

    Schools and colleges will have the flexibility to bring year 10 and 12 pupils back.

    Schools will be able to offer in-school check-ins for all other students.

  • Monday, March 22:

    Non-essential retail will start to re-open, and supermarkets will be able to sell non-essential goods.

    Garden centres will be allowed to open.

  • Friday, April 12:

    All shops, including those that offer close contact services, will be allowed to open.

    This is also the date of the Welsh Government’s next three-week review of lockdown regulations.

The Welsh Government has made an extra £150 million available to hospitality, tourism, leisure and other non-essential businesses which are not yet able to re-open, which will help them meet their ongoing operating costs.

Mr Drakeford said that he is unwilling to open all non-essential retail in Wales before April 12, as this may encourage people from England to cross the border to go shopping.

He also said that this announcement gives shops four weeks to prepare and ensure that they will re-open safely.

Outdoor gyms can open tomorrow. The Welsh Government will consider allowing indoor gyms to open in the second half of April.

Under the “stay local” requirement the five-mile rule, implemented last summer, should be used as a guide.

Mr Drakeford said that the stay local message can be interpreted differently in urban and rural areas, but Wales’s police will take a “proportionate, balanced approach” when enforcing it.

The First Minister aims to lift the stay local requirement by the end of March. This will allow people to travel, but only to self-contained accommodation with people from their own household.

Self-contained accommodation is expected to open from March 27, ahead of the Easter weekend, for tourism.

Cases of Covid-19 in Wales are now at their lowest since September.

About 40% of people in Wales have now been offered a first dose of the vaccine and, yesterday, 38,000 people were vaccinated – the highest number recorded in a single day.

The positivity rate in Wales is 4.3%, and Mr Drakeford said today that statistics from the ONS suggest that Wales has the lowest rate of Covid-19 in the UK.