Holidays abroad allowed from 17 May, First Minister confirms

  • ITV Wales' Political Editor Adrian Masters reports on the latest easing of lockdown

Wales will move to alert level two on Monday with holidays abroad allowed to resume, First Minster Mark Drakeford has said.

Indoor hospitality and entertainment venues will also reopen.

During his first press conference since being re-elected as First Minister, he announced that on Monday 17 May, international travel will restart for people in Wales.

Wales will use the same traffic light system as the rest of the UK.

Portugal has been added to the list of green countries that people in the UK can travel to.

Everyone visiting a green list country will have to book a coronavirus test before their return.

The number of visitors allowed in care homes will also increase.

However he said, "If ever there is a year to explore the wonders of Wales and holiday at home, this is the year to do that."

On Monday 24 May, the number of people who can visit residents in care homes indoors will also increase.

Moving to alert level 1 will be reviewed in coming weeks.

Mr Drakeford said the lowering of the country's alert level was prompted by levels of coronavirus remaining low and vaccination rates the highest in the UK.

According to the UK Government's Covid-19 tracker, Wales' seven-day rate is 9.2 per 100,000 people - significantly lower than England on 22.1, Scotland on 23.8, and Northern Ireland on 32.6

However speaking about the Indian variant, he said the pandemic continues to be full of unpleasant twists and turns and he is closely monitoring the situation of the variant.

There are currently 26 cases of the Indian variant in Wales.

There are currently 26 cases of the Indian variant in Wales.

He said they are "almost entirely" a result of international travel.

Monday's reopening of indoor service for pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes as well as entertainment venues like cinemas will come alongside allowing up to 30 people to take part in organised indoor events and up to 50 people in organised outdoor events like weddings.

Mr Drakeford said: “Thanks to everyone’s hard work and ongoing efforts, we can take another step towards relaxing the coronavirus restrictions and move to alert level two on Monday.

“Indoor hospitality will be able to reopen, a move that will be welcomed by many of us as we look forward to enjoying a drink, a meal and the company of friends and family in a café or pub.

“By sticking with the rules and our successful vaccine programme, we are making really good progress in controlling the virus and keeping rates low.

“But the pandemic isn’t over – the new, so-called Indian variant of concern is another unwanted twist in this pandemic, which we are monitoring closely.”  

In Covid Alert Level 2, indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, bingo halls and museums will be able to reopen, with six people allowed to meet up indoors as part of an extended household.

Cinemas, bingo halls and museums will be able to reopen from May 17. Credit: PA Images

Steve Reynolds of Maxime Cinema in Blackwood said he is looking forward to reopening but said the issue of social distancing in the cinema screens will be a challenge financially.

"If we serve one single ticket, we have to keep the row in front of you empty and behind you empty, four between, so one ticket takes up 27 seats, so it is difficult."

"We are fortunate that we haven’t lost any staff with the furlough scheme, but everyone is coming back and they will be back in work next week, so it’s great really for them. We’re obviously looking forward now and we have the measures in place here, safety of course for the audience and for our staff is the prime responsibility of us."

Indoor hospitality and the rest of the tourism accommodation industry will also be allowed to reopen from 17 May.

Weddings will also be able to take place in Wales with a maximum of 30 people for an indoor reception and 50 people for an outdoor reception.

In Covid Alert Level 1, the restrictions would be relaxed further again, with three households able to form a larger extended household.

Weddings will also be able to take place with a maximum of 50 people for indoor receptions and 100 people for outdoor receptions.

However, despite the possibility of the Covid Alert Level being lowered, nightclubs and adult entertainment venues will not be able to reopen.

The reopening of nightclubs will be reviewed by the Welsh Government at a later date. Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government says these two industries will be 'under consideration' in its next review of the coronavirus restrictions in Wales, with the possibility that they may be able to reopen by the end of June.

From Monday 17th May – Covid Alert Level 2:

  • Indoor hospitality

  • Indoor entertainment like cinema, bingo halls, casino, museums and art galleries

  • The rest of tourism accommodation

  • Rule of six indoors for extended households

  • Organised indoor activities for up to 30 people

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 50 people

  • Wedding reception / wake (30 people indoors 50 outdoors)

  • International travel will resume with a traffic light system aligned with England and Scotland

Karl Grossmann, General Manager at the Grosvenor Casino in Cardiff told ITV News, "We have put a lot of effort in getting everything ready and making sure our safety measures are in place in line with the government guidance.

"For the majority of our colleagues they’ve spent five months at home, twiddling our thumbs. We are now getting back to a bit of normality. The guys are really excited to come back and serve our customers."

Covid Alert Level 1:

  • Organised indoor activities for up to 50 people

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 100 people

  • Extended households can have three households

  • Wedding reception / wake (50 people indoors 100 outdoors).

Earlier this week, the Welsh Government announced businesses still affected by restrictions can claim additional financial support of up to #25,000 to help meet ongoing costs.

If public health conditions remain positive, the next three-week review will consider allowing more people to meet in homes.

It will also look at increasing the number of people who can meet outdoors and the number of people who can attend organised activities and events, including wedding receptions, to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors, as well as allowing larger-scale events to take place indoors and outdoors.