Photo: N Chadwick (CC BY-SA 2.0)
First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced Wales’ plans for when it exits the ‘firebreak’ lockdown on November 9th.
Under the new rules, pubs, gyms, restaurants, and cafes will be allowed to reopen. A ‘group of four’ rule will be introduced, whereby groups of up to (but no more than) four people from different households will be allowed to meet indoors at these establishments.
On the upcoming changes, Mr Drakeford said: “We have listened to those young people and single people who told us how important it is for them to meet some friends and other family members”.
“So the regulations will allow groups of up to four individuals to meet in a regulated setting such as a restaurant, café, or pub. But this is subject to strict protections discussed with the hospitality sector including advance booking, time-limited slots, and verified identification.”
There will still be a 10pm ban on the sale of alcohol.
Alongside stores reopening, two households will be allowed to form a ‘bubble’ from November 9th, and there will be no travel restrictions within Wales. Travel outside of Wales, however, will not be allowed without an acceptable excuse.
Mr Drakeford added that the relaxation of the restrictions are “a permission, not something we are encouraging people to do.”
“It is the most challenging change from a public health perspective and will be kept under continuous review. Its success depends on the actions of the sector and each of us to use this permission responsibly and sparingly.”
Since October 23rd, all ‘non-essential’ stores and services have been closed for a 17-day firebreak lockdown. This is aiming to ease the pressure on the NHS and reduce the amount of coronavirus cases in the country.
The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that England will go into a month-long lockdown from Thursday November 5th. Mr Drakeford stressed that Wales cannot become an ‘escape’ for people in England during this time.
“The English lockdown will have an impact on people who live in Wales but work in England, on companies operating in both England and Wales and on businesses trading along the border.
“It’s really important that as we open up, Wales doesn’t become an escape for people seeking to circumvent the new tighter restrictions imposed by the prime minister.”
In the announcement, Mr Drakeford also emphasises the importance of “maintaining the basics of good hygiene and keeping our distance” and describes them as “crucial in these settings”.