PEOPLE won’t be penalised for travelling more than five miles to a shop or hairdressers under Wales’s new ‘stay local’ Covid rules.
But, warns First Minister Mark Drakeford, the country’s tourist operators are still banned from taking bookings from people in England over Easter.
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What does stay local mean in Wales?
The Welsh Government’s “stay local” rule comes into force from Saturday, March 13 2021.
It replaces the country’s “stay at home” Covid restictions – but is only in place for “the next few weeks”.
People in Wales have been told to stay within five miles of their homes as part of the country’s new “stay local” coronavirus measures.
But, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has insisted this is “not a rule”.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday March 12: “It is guidance and is to be interpreted in people’s individual circumstances.
“Of course there will be people, in rural Wales particularly, who don’t live five miles away from a shop – they would have to travel further, and they’ll be able to do that.
“People can interpret it with some flexibility in their local circumstances.”
Drakeford was asked to assure people they wouldn’t be penalised if they travelled more than five miles to go to a shop or hairdressers.
“Provided that they are not passing lots of shops in order to go to another one, then of course that will be consistent with the rule,” he replied.
What lockdown restrictions have been lifted in Wales?
From February 20 Wales allowed the number of people to exercise together to increase from two to four – from a maximum of two households.
Returning children and young people to face-to-face education has been the “top priority” for the Welsh Government.
About 40 per cent of children in Wales have already returned to the classroom since lockdown measures were eased further from February 22.
That figure will rise “considerably” from Monday, March 15, when all primary school pupils and students taking exams in secondary schools will return, says the First Minister.
All students in Wales will be back in classrooms on April 12.
Public Health Wales said on Thursday, March 11, there were a further 195 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 205,788.
The agency reported 12 further deaths, taking the total in Wales since the start of the pandemic to 5,424.
What restrictions will be lifted in the coming weeks?
Wales will begin the slow relaxation of Covid lockdown rules from Saturday, March 13.
Curbs on meeting people outside will be the first to ease, with the public required to “stay local” rather than “stay at home”.
Those from two households will be able to meet in gardens from Saturday, March 13.
People would need to go through the house to access the back garden but “the idea is you walk straight through, out the back door into the garden,” said the First Minister.
“That will be a big step forward here in Wales, people haven’t been able to do that now for weeks and weeks,” he added.
“For many families that will allow grandparents to see grandchildren again and it’s a sign that cautiously, carefully and step by step, we’re now on the journey of reopening Welsh society.”
From Monday, March 15, school children aged up to 11, plus older pupils who would normally sit exams, will return to class.
Barbers and hairdressers will also be allowed to reopen for pre-booked appointments on March 15. In England, it will not be possible to get a haircut before mid-April.
Welsh supermarkets will continue to be banned from selling non-essential items until March 22 and other shops will reopen on April 12.
Businesses affected by ongoing restrictions will be supported by an additional £150million from the Welsh Government.
Wales is taking a phased approach to unlocking each sector, and gradually restoring freedoms – with the government to monitor any health impacts before progressing to the next step.
Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “Provided things continue to go in the right direction, we hope to be able to reopen self-contained accommodation for the Easter period.”
But, people in England will not be able to holiday in Wales when self-contained accommodation reopens at Easter.
Drakeford said: “At Easter time, Welsh people will be able to travel for holidays over Easter within Wales, and to self-contained accommodation.
“The rules in England will not permit that.
The Prime Minister’s road map says that for the weeks after March 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight.
“If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales.”
First steps out of lockdown in Wales, 2021
From Saturday March 13, 2021:
- Four people from two households can meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens.
- Outdoor sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts and golf courses, can reopen.
- These can be used locally by up to four people from those two households.
- Indoor care home visits will restart, for single designated visitors.
From Monday March 15, 2021:
- All primary pupils and those in qualifications years will return to face-to-face lessons.
- Schools will have the flexibility to bring years 10 and 12 learners back and more learners will return to colleges.
- Hairdressers and barbers will re-open for appointments.
From Monday March 22, 2021:
- Non-essential retail will start re-opening gradually.
- Garden centres will also be able to open.
From Monday April 12, 2021:
- All shops, including all close contact services, will be able to open from April 12– the same date as in England.
- All pupils will return in the third phase, after the Easter break, on April 12.
How long has Wales been in lockdown for?
Most shops have been closed since December 20, 2020.
Supermarkets remain banned from selling clothes, toys, electrical goods and any other items the Welsh government has deemed non-essential until March 22, 2021.
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