Welsh Government has announced that it is accelerating elements of its programme to relax Covid-19 restrictions as cases of new infections continue to fall across Wales.
People will be able to form an extended household, visit the gym or take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned as the public health situation – and vaccination rates – continue to improve.
First Minister Mark Drakeford last week set out a detailed timetable for moving Wales firmly into alert level three. But some of these measures will now be introduced sooner than planned as cases have fallen markedly from 37 cases per 100,000 people to fewer than 21 per 100,000 this week.
The pressure on hospitals also continues to ease. Confirmed cases in hospital beds continue to reduce, and now stands at 89. This is 26% lower than last Thursday and is the lowest position since 22 September 2020.
The planned opening date for organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions will be moved forward to Monday 26 April from 3 May.
And, from Monday 3 May, a week earlier than previously signalled, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be able to reopen for individual or one-to-one training. Extended households will also be allowed again, enabling two households to meet and have contact indoors.
First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “The public health situation in Wales continues to improve thanks to everything you are doing to help us control this awful virus. Cases of the virus are falling and our incredible vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength.
“Last week, we set out our programme to further re-open the economy and relax the restrictions we have lived with for so long, as part of our careful, step-by-step approach to keeping everyone safe. This week, because of the improvements we continue to see, we can bring forward some of our plans.
“This is only possible because of the efforts everyone is making to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The Leader, Cllr Huw David said: “As the public health situation in Wales continues to improve, we welcome this announcement from Welsh Government that brings the easing of restrictions forward. Many thanks for all your efforts in sticking to the rules and making it possible for this to happen.
“Bridgend County Borough currently has the lowest rates of Covid-19 in Wales and one of the lowest levels in the UK and in order for that to continue, we must all follow the guidance in place around social distancing, washing hands and wearing face coverings where required.”
From Monday 12 April, the following relaxations will go ahead:
- The full return of children to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 learners will return to further education and training centres, and university campus’ will be able to open for blended face-to-face/online learning for all students
- All remaining shops will reopen, completing the phased reopening of non-essential retail
- All remaining close contact services will open, including mobile services
- Travel restrictions on travelling into and out of Wales will be lifted. However, restrictions on travel to countries outside the Common Travel Area without a reasonable excuse, remain in place. The Common Travel Area means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland
- Wedding ‘show-arounds’ by appointment are allowed
- Restrictions on political canvassing are removed, subject to canvassers doing so safely
Further easements to restrictions in the coming weeks will be subject to the public health situation remaining favourable. These will be confirmed at the next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations on 22 April. On Monday 26 April:
- Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, would be allowed to reopen
- Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants. Indoor hospitality will remain closed except for takeaways
- Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place (previously Monday 3 May)
- Weddings receptions can take place outdoors for up to 30 people (previously Monday 3 May)
On Monday 3 May (previously Monday 10 May):
- Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes
- Extended household will again allow two households to meet and have contact indoors
As set out in the revised Coronavirus Control Plan, a small number of outdoor pilot events of between 200 and 1,000 people are also being planned.