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COVID-19: Wales first minister confident of lockdown roadmap as virus ‘is in a relatively benign position’

Written by on 1 April 2021

The first minister of Wales has expressed confidence in the country’s roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions, telling Sky News that COVID is in a “relatively benign position” there.

“We have a good level of confidence that we will be able to achieve all of those dates,” Mark Drakeford said about the Welsh government’s plan to ease COVID-19 measures.

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“The level of coronavirus in Wales is the lowest in the United Kingdom and the rates of vaccination are the highest.

“All of that means that the virus, at the moment, is in a relatively benign position.”

Cross-border travel between Wales and the rest of the UK will be allowed from 12 April, he is expected to confirm at a government briefing later.

Meanwhile, pubs, restaurants and cafes could reopen outdoors from 26 April.

Under the Welsh government’s plan:

From 12 April:
• All pupils in Wales will return to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 students will return to further education and training centres, and university campuses will be able to open for a mixture of face-to-face and online learning for all students
• All remaining shops can reopen
• All remaining close contact services can resume, including mobile services
• Travel into and out of Wales from the rest of the UK and the Common Travel Area will be allowed
• Viewings at wedding venues can resume by appointment
• Outdoor canvassing for elections can begin.

The Welsh government is also planning further easings of lockdown rules in April and May, but warned these will only happen “should public health conditions remain favourable”.

These include, from 26 April:

• Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will reopen
• Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

From 3 May:

• Wedding receptions with up to 30 people can take place outdoors..

From 10 May:

• Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes
• Two households will be able to meet indoors.

From 17 May:

• Children’s indoor activities, community centres and organised indoor activities for up to 15 adults – including exercise classes – will be able to resume.

However, this step will have to be signed off by the new Welsh government, following elections on 6 May, along with the possible reopening of indoor hospitality ahead of the bank holiday at the end of May.

Mr Drakeford said people in Wales “have to go on working hard to make sure that we don’t lose the ground that we’ve gained”.

He continued: “Provided we can do that, then there are new dates from here until the month of May where freedoms can be restored, businesses can reopen and we can take advantage of the time of year in which outdoor activities in particular are easier to resume.”