Stricter lockdown measures come into force in Wales

New stricter stay-at-home regulations have come into force in Wales following an announcement on Friday by the First Minister.

During a press conference, Mark Drakeford AM said he has made "some small changes" to the regulations following a review - "some are being strengthened, others are being eased", he said.

Wales has entered its fifth week of lockdown after it was extended by the Welsh Government.

  • Watch the press conference in full:

"The overarching stay-at-home rules remain in place", he said.

He added there is a "long road still ahead of us towards recovery - a vaccine and effective treatment is needed."

From Saturday, one of the restrictions will change from a requirement not to leave where you live to a requirement not to leave or remain away from that place - in order to stop people living in Wales travelling long distances to beauty spots for exercise, and people living outside Wales travelling to holiday and second homes.

Mr Drakeford said the efforts people have made over the last five weeks have had a "positive impact on the course of the virus."

Other changes, that came into force at 00:01 on Saturday, include:

  • applying the 2m physical distancing duty on premises used for “click and collect” style services – this duty is already in place for other workplaces, which remain open

  • widening the definition of vulnerable person to include other specific groups or conditions where people could benefit from assistance and to whom providing supplies is a reasonable excuse for another person to leave home (for example, people with dementia)

  • extending the physical distancing duty to cafés accessible by the public in hospitals, and those responsible for canteens in schools, prisons and for use by the armed forces, to ensure all reasonable measures are put in place

The Welsh Government has also published a three-stage exit plan in order to work out when the time is right to relax or lift the regulations - if hospital admissions have reduced for a "sustained period", for example.

My Drakeford warned that as the restrictions are lifted, it is "inevitable" the virus will begin to circulate again.

He said community testing regime "will be essential" as the lockdown measures are progressively lifted.

"I am keen to make sure we use the time we’ve got to put that system in place. The Chief Medical Officer has already set out the elements we would need and I have asked Public Health Wales colleagues to draw up a plan.

"We have worked closely with the rest of the UK throughout the pandemic and I want this to continue. Publishing the framework is part of our contribution to that work", the First Minister added.

That plan includes seven questions to work out whether or not to keep, drop or introduce any particular restriction. The details can be read here.

Following the press conference, Welsh Conservatives' Darren Millar AM said easing restrictions needs to be done "with great care" and in "concert with other parts of the UK".

He said community testing will also need to be "hugely upscaled" to assess the impact of loosening the lockdown.

He added, “We must learn from experiences elsewhere, listen to the science, and work carefully through the different approaches and how they could work in practice.

“No matter how we move forward, it is already clear that we are going to need a huge upscaling of community testing to inform any decisions and monitor the impact of any loosening of the restrictions."

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