Wales sets out timetable to reopen gyms and allow extended households

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The Welsh Government has announced cautious plans to further ease lockdown with dates allowing more aspects of society to reopen.

The First Minister said that gyms, outdoor hospitality and extended households will be considered as part of a review on 22 April.

Leisure centres, outdoor attractions, weddings, community centres, organised activities with 30 people outdoors or 15 people indoors will also be considered.

Mark Drakeford confirmed that on 12 April - providing coronavirus cases remain low - there will be a full return to schools, colleges and other education.

Close contact beauty services are set to resume from April 12. Credit: PA Images

All shops will also be allowed to reopen on this date, as well as close contact services such as beauty and massage therapists.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Drakeford confirmed that garden centres and some non-essential retail could reopen from 22 March.

He also said plans are still in place to lift 'stay local' restrictions from 27 March, provided cases continue to fall.

Mark Drakeford said Wales is now entering a critical phase in the pandemic. Credit: PA Images

On Monday, the Welsh Government will confirm if the conditions allow for the 'stay local' rule to be lifted, moving Wales into alert level three.

The updated Welsh plans do not offer any dates beyond 22 April, unlike the roadmap for England, which gives reopening dates up to 21 June.

Mr Drakeford said the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Kent variant meant the Welsh Government was adopting a more cautious approach to coming out of lockdown.

"Just as we are rolling out vaccination, we are facing a very different virus in Wales today. The highly-infectious Kent variant is now dominant in all parts of Wales," he said.

"This means the protective behaviours we have all learned to adopt are even more important than ever - getting tested and isolating when we have symptoms, keeping our distance from others, not mixing indoors, avoiding crowds, washing our hands regularly and wearing face coverings.

"The pandemic is not over. Spring and summer give us hope of more freedom as rates of infection fall and more people are vaccinated.

"But we must be careful. We can't rush the process of relaxing restrictions and risk a resurgence of the virus."

The reopening of gyms in Wales will be considered as part of a review on 22 April. Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government said it will revisit the plan after vaccination has been offered to all eligible adults – currently scheduled for the end of July – when more evidence and data about its impact will be available.

Last week, Wales' health minister defended the decision not to set out a roadmap as the UK Government has for England.

Boris Johnson revealed his four-step route out of lockdown in February, which could see all aspects of society in England reopened by 21 June.

But Vaughan Gething said such a timetable requires "a level of forecasting" that is "not sensible".

"The long-term plan that England have set out into the middle of summer is something that requires a level of forecasting that we don't think is sensible or reliable," he said.

"There's an awful lot of hostages to fortune within that and I just don't think that is a sensible approach."

He claimed that "offering people false hope will destroy trust", adding that it is "much better to have a more focused approach to phasing out".