Pubs and restaurants to open indoors in May: Wales lifts more lockdown restrictions earlier than planned

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Lockdown restrictions are being eased earlier than planned in Wales due to low coronavirus rates.

At a press conference on Friday, the First Minister said Wales has the lowest rates of Covid-19 in the UK, at 14.7 cases per 100,000 people.

  • Wales' First Minister gives an update on Covid restrictions at Friday's press conference

Mark Drakeford attributed the low infection rate to "working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme".

On Thursday, a milestone in vaccination was hit with more than a quarter of adults in Wales receiving a two-dose course of a coronavirus vaccine.

The First Minister announced that many restrictions will be brought forward from 17 May to 3 May - meaning Wales will have completed the move to Alert Level 3 by Monday 3 May.

Measures brought forward from 17 May to 3 May include:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be able to reopen;

  • People will also again be able to form extended households with one other household

  • The resumption of indoor supervised activities for children

  • Indoor organised activities for up to 15 adults (such as exercise classes and swimming lessons)

  • And the re-opening of community centres.

From Saturday 24 April, up to six people from up to six different households can meet outdoors - this was brought forward.

The First Minister said the sacrifices people have made "continue to show results" and he added it is his "assessment" that bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to open indoors from May 17 - but that will not be confirmed until after the Senedd election.

People can visit pubs cafes and restaurants outdoors from 26 April. Credit: PA

On Monday 26 April, outdoor hospitality such as pubs, cafes and restaurants, will be able to reopen along with outdoor attractions and organised activities of up to 30 people including weddings receptions.

A second designated person will also be allowed to visit care home residents from Monday - currently, just one person is permitted.

In addition, there will be more flexibility around young children visiting care homes, Mr Drakeford said.

Gyms can now open two weeks earlier than planned. Credit: PA

"By us all working together and sticking to the rules, combined with our vaccination programme, mean we continue to make progress", Mr Drakeford added.

"Rates of the virus continue to fall and the public health situation is improving. 

“Due to these efforts we are able confirm more easing of the restrictions from 26 April and for early May we are again able to bring forward some of our plans.

"However, this progress is dependent on all of us continuing to work together to keep Wales safe.

“At the last three-week review, I set out a forward-look of how the restrictions could continue to be lifted in the weeks ahead, if the public health situation remains stable.

“It will be for the incoming Welsh Government to confirm these arrangements at the next three-week review, which will be held on May 13 – a week after the election.

"It is my assessment that the hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes – will be able to open indoors from May 17, together with all other tourist accommodation, indoor entertainment and attractions.”

Mark Drakeford has been accused by both Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives of abusing his position for political gain ahead of the election.

The announcement comes as Mark Drakeford was accused of abusing his position as First Minister in the run-up to the election after saying he will use Friday's Welsh Government briefing to set out what a Labour government, if successful, would do after 7 May.

In response to the announcement, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies accused Labour of choosing to "play politics".

"Labour's inaction and refusal to bring forward a roadmap out of lockdown has caused uncertainty and confusion for many Welsh families, workers and businesses," he said. 

"Thanks to the UK's great vaccination story so much more detail could've been announced prior to the election period - such as on hospitality, sport, gyms and other economic and social activities - but Labour chose to play politics.

"This latest review announcement has already been well trailed and should be led by the chief medical officer, not the First Minister, in what is a blatant attempt to influence May's election."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has also written to the Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Government, Dame Shan Morgan, who is the charge of the civil service.

In the letter, Mr Price accuses the First Minister of using civil service resources for electioneering purposes, which must not be done during an election period.

A Welsh Labour spokesperson said, “Mark Drakeford remains the First Minister making important decisions to keep Wales safe.

“We are aware that Mr Price has sent another letter, we understand this will be responded to in due course.”

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