Holidays, hairdressers and hospitality: The path out of Wales' lockdown

The First Minister has identified his roadmap for the next six weeks on how he plans to lift Covid lockdown restrictions in Wales.

The country has been under Alert Level 4 rules since 20 December which saw people urged to stay at home, all non-essential retail closed including pubs, cafes, restaurants leisure facilities and 'close contact services' like hairdressers and beauty salons.

All indoor mixing between households was prohibited, apart from Christmas Day, and people have only been permitted to exercise outside with one other person since 30 January.

Non-essential retail has been closed since 20 December in Wales Credit: PA

The effects of almost two months in lockdown has had a significant impact on the rate of coronavirus transmission in Wales. The current positivity rate is around 84 in 100,000 the First Minister confirmed on Friday - and this is being felt in the NHS in terms of the easing of pressure on its services.

The pressure has now been transferred onto Mr Drakeford to start relaxing some of the rules from various sectors of the economy. Friday's review did not quite deliver on this, but he did set out a 'roadmap' style guide on how the next few weeks could go.

The most recent change has been that four people from two households can now meet up to exercise outdoors. The First Minister emphasised that 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".

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, not receptions.

Care home visiting guidance will also be looked at, as more people living and working in care homes receive the vaccination.

So, as the rates continue to fall, how does the government plan on coming out of lockdown completely?

  • Less homeschooling

Schools will start back for the youngest learners from 22 February Credit: PA

Thousands of parents across Wales can breath a sigh of relief after the Welsh Government maintained its position that getting children back to school is a priority.

The youngest children - aged three to seven - will start returning to the classroom from Monday 22 February.

Mr Drakeford told a press conference on Friday the government had been working with local education authorities and with unions about how foundation age schoolchildren can go back in a "phased and flexible way".

If coronavirus cases in Wales continue to fall, the aim is for all primary school children to return to face-to-face learning from 15 March.Mark Drakeford also said he would like to see older pupils such as years 11 and 13 in schools and colleges to go "back on a blended learning basis, if the conditions are right" in three weeks' time.

  • Need a haircut?

The reopening of close contact services will be considered at the next review in three weeks time Credit: PA

You may have to wait slightly longer for a trip to the barbers or hair salon as there was no date given for the reopening of these services on Friday.

What is known as "close contact services", hairdressers and beauty salons have remained closed throughout the lockdown in Wales.

Hairdressers were allowed to reopen before other close contact beauty services last year. Mr Drakeford said he is "keen to learn the lessons of last year".

"Last time we opened hairdressers first...and I think I'm keen to learn the lessons of last year, to do the things that worked well then and where we can do things better."

But he did recognise the importance of these services when he said, "There's quite a lot of us...who are looking forward to the opportunity of getting a haircut again."

One salon owner in Cardiff previously told ITV Cymru Wales that she believes it is going to "take years" for her business to recover following the pandemic.

  • What about other non-essential shops?

Non-essential shops have been closed since 20 December Credit: PA

The Welsh Government said that it will use the next three weeks to look at the possibility of reopening some non-essential retail stores.

At the start of the Alert Level 4 lockdown, the Welsh Government issued guidance on what supermarkets in Wales can and can't sell - with items such as toys, clothes, electrical goods and gardening products not able to be sold.

Some supermarkets have closed off aisles containing 'non-essential' items, similar to what happened during Wales' firebreak lockdown last year.

  • Fancy a pint?

Mark Drakeford said the hospitality sector will not reopen for at least another six weeks Credit: PA

It isn't good news either for those who are looking forward to visiting their local pub or restaurant in the next few weeks.

Due to the government prioritising the opening of schools, the hospitality sector has been told they are not likely to see a reopening in either of the next two three-week review periods.

"A lot can happen in six weeks", Mark Drakeford said. "We will learn a great deal on the impact of the circulation of the virus by reopening schools and providing things continue to improve, hospitality will come onto the agenda of things we will be able to consider next."

  • What about holidays?

Holidays in Wales could be possible by Easter if rates continue to fall Credit: PA

A ban on non-essential travel will remain in place for the next three weeks, so no trips to the beach or Wales' beauty spots unless you live within walking distance.

Mark Drakeford did say he met with a tourism taskforce on Thursday where a "phased reopening" was discussed starting with self-contained accommodation.

Self-contained accommodation including hotels and bed & breakfasts with room service, as well as caravans and lodges, will be considered for reopening following the next review of restrictions, which could see things opening up in time for Easter.

But, the First Minister did warn travel restrictions could be enforced to prevent people from areas with high levels of coronavirus coming into Wales when the tourism sector does reopen.