Five-mile rule to be scrapped in Wales on Monday

  • Video report by Ian Lang

The rule which requires people in Wales to stay within five miles of their homes is to be scrapped by the Welsh Government from Monday.

At a press conference on Friday lunchtime, the First Minister said current conditions allow the Welsh Government to lift the requirement to stay local from July 6.

It comes after the Welsh Government announced that two households will be able to reunite by forming one extended household, also from Monday.

Mark Drakeford said: “The number of coronavirus cases is declining, thanks to the efforts we have all taken together to reduce the spread of the virus. This means we can continue to make changes to the coronavirus regulations.

“From Monday, we will lift the requirement to stay local and introduce new changes to the rules to enable people from two separate households to join together to form one extended household.

“These changes will be welcomed by many as they represent a further easing of the lockdown – but this doesn’t mean that coronavirus has gone away. We all still have a responsibility to keep on doing all the things, which make a real difference to the spread of the virus.

“This means maintaining social distancing, thinking carefully about where we go and why, so together we continue to do all that we can to help to keep Wales safe.”

Credit: Welsh Government

Providers of self-contained accommodation like cottages, bed and breakfasts and caravans will be able to take bookings from Saturday July 11, subject to the continued fall in coronavirus cases.

And Welsh pubs, cafes and restaurants have been given the green light to open outdoors from July 13.

The First Minister reminded people that, while some restrictions are being eased in Wales, they still had to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Credit: PA Images

The announcement means the legal requirement to stay local no longer applies and people will be able to travel as far as they want.

At the next review on 9 July, the Welsh Government will consider a reopening the bars and restaurants outdoors, self-contained holiday accommodation and hairdressing by appointment.

Watch the First Minister's full press briefing here:

As much as the way it was introduced, the ending of the 'Stay Local' guidance or 'the five-mile rule' shows Mark Drakeford's trademark caution in the way he and his government approach every lockdown decision, a caution which some welcome while others find frustrating. 

The announcement two weeks ago that it would be reviewed spelled the effective end of the limit leading to political criticism and publicly-expressed confusion. Who knows how many people continued to observe it in their day to day lives? It doesn't seem to have been enforced and the exemptions publicly endorsed by the Welsh Government led many to think enforcement was impossible. 

But even in the face of that criticism and confusion, the First Minister kept to his timetable, only now confirming it will end on Monday.

Credit: PA

And it had to end, or else changes due to come into force the following week to reopen the tourism and hospitality industry simply wouldn't work. There's no point reopening a holiday cottage if it's only available to people living within five miles of it. 

Mark Drakeford's caution will find an unlikely echo in what the Prime Minister is expected to say tomorrow as pubs, restaurants and cafes in England allow people indoors for the first time in months. Boris Johnson will urge people to have a good time but to be careful. However with some newspapers already calling the changes 'Super Saturday' there's a good chance that Sunday's headlines will be full of pictures of the sort of crowds we're all still surprised to see. 

The contrast with what's happening on this side of the border will be sharper. As I say, some will welcome the Welsh caution while others will be alarmed. The trajectory Wales is on in terms of reopening is the same as in England. Mark Drakeford won't be hurried but those changes are coming here over the next few weeks too.