Wales lockdown to ease slightly with cross-border travel allowed from 12 April

Wales lockdown to ease slightly with cross-border travel allowed from 12 April
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Pubs, restaurants and cafes could reopen outdoors in Wales from 26 April, while cross-border travel between the country and the rest of the UK will be allowed from 12 April.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will confirm the next steps in easing Wales’s lockdown at a briefing on Thursday, as he aims for the country to fully move down to Alert Level 3 by 17 May.

“Thanks to a real team effort across Wales, coronavirus cases remain stable, and the vaccination programme continues apace,” the first minister said, ahead of Thursday’s news conference.

“As a result, the Welsh government has the headroom to continue its careful, step-by-step approach to relaxing restrictions.

“The review we have concluded this week, means we can continue with our programme of further re-opening of the economy and loosening the restrictions in place.”

Under the Welsh government’s plan:

From 12 April:

• All pupils in Wales will return to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 students will return to further education and training centres, and university campuses will be able to open for a mixture of face-to-face and online learning for all students
• All remaining shops can reopen
• All remaining close contact services can resume, including mobile services
• Travel into and out of Wales from the rest of the UK and the Common Travel Area will be allowed
• Viewings at wedding venues can resume by appointment
• Outdoor canvassing for elections can begin.

The Welsh government is also planning further easings of lockdown rules in April and May, but warned these will only happen “should public health conditions remain favourable”.

These include, from 26 April:

• Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will reopen
• Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.

From 3 May:

• Wedding receptions with up to 30 people can take place outdoors..

From 10 May:

• Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes
• Two households will be able to meet indoors.

From 17 May:

• Children’s indoor activities, community centres and organised indoor activities for up to 15 adults – including exercise classes – will be able to resume.

However, this step will have to be signed off by the new Welsh government, following elections on 6 May, along with the possible reopening of indoor hospitality ahead of the bank holiday at the end of May.

Mark Drakeford says the vaccination programme in Wales is going 'from strength to strength'

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Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford warned people to remain ‘vigilant’

Wales moved to Alert Level 4 – equivalent to a lockdown – in December last year.

A “stay at home” order in Wales was lifted earlier this month and replaced with a “stay local” message, accompanied by a slight loosening of restrictions on socialising outdoors.

Outdoor sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts and golf courses, have already been allowed to resume in Wales, while hairdressers and barbers reopened on 15 March.

That was the same day that all primary pupils and those in qualifications years returned to school.

The Welsh government cautioned that the latest lockdown easings to be set out on Thursday are “indicative dates” and final decisions will be made once the impact of other relaxations have been assessed.

Mr Drakeford added: “The sacrifices we have all made are having a positive effect in the battle against coronavirus.

“This last year has been incredibly difficult for all of us and again I want to thank everyone for their efforts.

“These efforts have allowed us to gradually ease the restrictions, to gradually introduce more elements of normal life.

“With the weather improving, with more opportunities to see family and friends, there are reasons for optimism.

“However, we can’t let our guard down yet. We all still need to be vigilant, we still need to do our part to keep this deadly disease at bay.”