Lockdown restrictions in Wales to stay but four people can meet for exercise

Groups of four people will be allowed to meet up and exercise outdoors as part of 'modest' changes to the lockdown restrictions announced by the First Minister.

Mark Drakeford said that while the main stay-at-home measures will remain in place for a further three weeks, there is 'headroom' to make some changes.

From Saturday, up to four people from two different households will be permitted to exercise outdoors together.

Mr Drakeford said all exercise must still begin and end at home - you are not allowed to drive to the location - and also stressed that it isn't an excuse to "socialise".

Mark Drakeford confirmed the youngest students will return to the classroom from Monday

Speaking at the Welsh Government's daily press briefing, the First Minister also said that getting children back into school is a priority.

It had already been announced that pupils aged three to seven will return to school from Monday.

Mr Drakeford said: "Getting more children and young people back to school and college will be our priority.

"If the situation continues to improve over the next three weeks, our aim is for all primary school children to return to face-to-face learning from 15 March.

"We also want to get some older learners – such years 11 and 13 in schools and those doing qualifications in colleges – back on a blended learning basis, if the conditions are right."

Wedding ceremonies will soon be able to take place at licensed venues, such as hotels Credit: PA Images

The First Minister announced a number of other small changes as part of the review.

From March 1, the law will be changed to allow licensed wedding venues, such as visitor attractions and hotels, to re-open - but only to perform wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.

Currently, ceremonies can only take place in official places of worship or register offices.

Wedding receptions are still not allowed to take place.

Care home visiting guidance will also be looked at, with more people living and working in care homes now vaccinated.

In addition, Sport Wales will make arrangements for athletes to resume training and playing.

It also emerged that the Welsh Government will consider beginning to reopen some non-essential retail and close-contact services, such as hair salons, at the next review date in mid-March.

Ministers are also starting to discuss a possible phased re-opening for tourism, starting with self-contained accommodation.

But Mr Drakeford said it is unlikely there will be a lifting of restrictions on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, in the next six weeks.

He said: "When I met with the tourism task force yesterday, there were a number of representatives of the hospitality industry in Wales. And as I explained to them, they are not likely to see a re-opening at either of the next two three-week review periods."

It comes as representatives from the tourism industry pleaded with a 'roadmap' out of the lockdown to give them a plan to reopen in time for the spring and summer season.

There was also no word on when gyms might reopen - the First Minister said the current advice from scientists is that the Kent variant of the virus could make gym environments "particularly vulnerable" to transmission.

Cases of coronavirus in Wales are now at their lowest level since the end of September, with around 84 cases per 100,000 people.

A third of the adult population of Wales have now received their first dose of the Covid jab.

Mark Drakeford said the rollout programme is on track to vaccinate to everyone in priority groups five to nine by the end of April.

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