The roadmap out of Wales' lockdown: What are some of the changes that could be announced on Friday?

Mark Drakeford has previously warned that any changes will be "marginal".

On Friday, the First Minister is due to announce a roadmap out of Wales' lockdown as part of the government's three-week review.

Despite the Covid case rate for Wales falling below 100, Mark Drakeford has previously warned that any changes will be "marginal".

Welsh Government has repeatedly said it wants a "cautious" approach to lifting restrictions and have not ruled out tougher measures in the future, should virus transmission worsen.

On Thursday, another 14 Covid-deaths were reported by Public Health Wales while an additional 290 virus cases were confirmed.

With numbers decreasing for most parts of Wales, this could provide more headroom for lifting restrictions.

This is Wales' third national lockdown so the country has been in this position before, with Welsh Government facing the same questions about what rules they should relax first.

With that in mind, what changes - if any - could we expect to see announced tomorrow?

Eight per cent of Covid tests in Wales are now returning positive results. Credit: PA Images
  • Schools

Often cited as a "priority" by Welsh Government, getting children and young people back to school is one the first things we have started to see change.

In Wednesday's Welsh Government press conference, Eluned Morgan reiterated that the plan is still for the youngest children to begin a phased return to schools from next Monday.

She added that Welsh Government is continuing to "monitor and plan for a wider return".

During that press conference, she added any lifting of lockdown in Wales will not be "to a fixed date timetable" and will be done based on scientific data.

  • Exercise

The last review date saw a change to the rules on exercising outdoors with others. People are currently allowed to meet with one other person outside their household to take part in exercise, outside and at a social distance.

The data on virus transmission outdoors indicates risk of contracting Covid is far lower so this is one area were Welsh Government could decide to relax rules further.

It is unlikely that gyms and leisure centres will be able to reopen as these were some of the last places to reopen after the first national lockdown last year. Outdoors gyms and parks reopened sooner but it was still around four months after lockdown was introduced.

In a recent press conference on 1 February, Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government was "very reluctant" to close down gyms and they are places "we want to consider opening early."

Gyms have been closed in Wales since 20 December Credit: PA Images
  • Non-essential shops

Non-essential businesses have been closed for almost two months since the lockdown was enforced at the end of December. Click and collect services are currently available, but in order for these places to be able to fully reopen, Wales would need to move down a level into Alert Level 3.

This also includes close contact services such as hairdressers, hospitality businesses (but they must close by 6pm), and holiday accommodation.

  • Meeting others

Something many people are eager to do is meet up with friends and family.

There are currently limited circumstances where people are allowed to meet with others outside of their household or support bubble. People are not allowed to meet up socially but can exercise with one other person outside.

The Health Minister said earlier this week that ministers were considering how they could give families "a bit more flexibility after such a long lockdown" - which could mean some sort of relaxation on the rules around gatherings.

Last year when Wales began to move out of lockdown, one of the first new rules was that people from two households could meet up outside while maintaining social distancing, meaning we could see larger groups allowed to get together.

It was the First Minister's sixth review of the first lockdown that led to groups of 30 being able to meet outside, so we are unlikely to see a return of big social gatherings for some time yet.

Currently two people can meet outdoors to exercise in Wales Credit: PA
  • Travel

No travel is allowed at the moment apart from for essential reasons. The advice is to stay at home and it is unlikely this will change much.

The stay-local 'five-mile rule' was scrapped in July last year, months after the first lockdown began to be eased so it is unlikely travelling beyond your local area will be allowed at this stage.

The tourism industry has pleaded with the First Minister for a "roadmap" of businesses reopening in time for peak season
  • Tourism

Tourism businesses are calling for more certainty over when lockdown restrictions will be eased and they can start trading fully again.

The Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) Wales is calling for a "roadmap" for reopening, but to also take into account the tourism sector's need to start taking bookings as the spring/summer season approaches.

There are around 11,000 tourism businesses in Wales which bring in more than £6bn a year.

Welsh Government have previously said "cautious" talks are ongoing with the tourism and hospitality industries about reopening but the Health Minister said earlier this week that it would not be helpful at the moment to give a set timeline of dates.