'We are not making it up as we go along' First Minister defends announcements on lockdown easing in Wales

  • Watch the interview with First Minister Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford has denied the government are "making it up as they go along" when questioned about why it was not reducing its alert levels further due to low cases of the virus in Wales

It comes as 'stay local' restrictions will be lifted this weekend allowing people to travel further within Wales.

It will be replaced by an interim 'all-Wales travel area' for at least two weeks, which bans non-essential travel in or out of Wales.

The changes mean Wales moves out of alert level four and into level three. Ministers will consider further alert level three measures in the next review of the regulations.

He admitted the positivity rate is less than 50 in 100,00 in Wales and the case rates in over 60s remain low.

Mr Drakeford told ITV News, "I can assure anybody we are not making it up as we go along. Every single day we look at all the data that we have on a daily basis. We weigh that against the risk we know is there.

"The rising tide of coronavirus on the continent of Europe with large numbers of Brazilian and South African cases being discovered there. Today's package is considerable - there is a further lifting of restrictions planned for 12 April and then we will carefully look to see if it is possible to go beyond that."

He said hospital capacity is being managed effectively and doesn't see pressure increasing dramatically. "I don't think we can rule out an increase", though he warned. "Numbers in the under 25s have been rising recently. The picture is good on the whole with some concerning aspects."

Self-contained accommodation will be allowed to reopen. Credit: PA

From Saturday, self-contained holiday accommodation providers will also be allowed to reopen their doors in time for the Easter break.

The rules will also allow up to six people from two different households to meet and exercise outdoors.

The Welsh Government said accommodation is deemed to be self-contained when it "does not require guests to share washing facilities, toilets or kitchens", such as caravans.

Self-contained accommodation also extends to cover B&Bs and hostels which have en-suite facilities and room service meals.

One campsite owner welcomed the reopening of of their business in Caernarfon, but said most of their trade comes from tourists traveling across the border from England.

Catherine Hummel, owner of Riverside Camping, said: '' Usually easter is very busy but 90% of our customers are from England so it's going to be quieter.

''We're going to miss our English customers because they are the bulk of our trade but we'll take what we can at the moment really.

''We also understand that a phased response is very important at the moment, tourism is so key in north Wales so we have to have our local community on board.''

Credit: PA

The leader of Plaid Cymru questioned Welsh Government's approach to easing the rules on tourism, claiming that many will not open if they are not allowed to take guests from England.

Adam Price MS said: "Because they are so heavily geared towards visitors from England, the reality is for many of them it's simply not worth opening at this stage.

"And I wonder to what extent the Welsh Government has engaged properly with the tourism sector to understand the economics of the industry."

The Welsh Conservatives welcomed the easing of travel restrictions but added that more detail is needed for future lifting of lockdown rules.

The party leader, Andrew RT Davies MS, said: "We’ve been in lockdown longer than anywhere else in Britain, but we’re making good progress thanks to the hard work of people and communities across Wales.

“This is a positive step in the right direction but families, workers, and businesses are still crying out for more detail from Labour ministers, and that’s why the Welsh Conservatives would provide a comprehensive roadmap out of lockdown for Wales."

Six people from two households will also be able to meet outdoors. Credit: PA

First Minister Mark Drakeford has previously said that the easing of restrictions depended on coronavirus rates and the progress that had been made in getting infections down.

In the next review on 12 April, the Welsh Government has said it will consider the return of all pupils and students to schools and other educational settings.

It will also look at the reopening of all shops and close-contact services, as well as the lifting of the interim 'all-Wales travel area'.

Organised outdoor activities and sports for children and under 18s will be able to resume.

Open air monuments and gardens will also reopen, as well as libraries and archives.

On 22 March, the ban on supermarkets in Wales selling non-essential items was lifted.

Garden centres were also allowed to reopen for the first time this year.

At the time of the Welsh Government's last lockdown review, on Friday 12 March, Wales had the lowest coronavirus infection rate of the four UK nations.

Mr Drakeford said: "These further relaxations are part of our careful and phased approach to unlocking the restrictions and enabling people and businesses to resume their activities in the safest possible way.

"We’re only able to do this because of the sacrifices everyone across Wales has made over the last few months – everything you are doing to keep your loved ones safe is also keeping Wales safe.

"The public health position remains stable; our incredible vaccination programme goes from strength to strength – we have headroom to make these changes."