Coronavirus advice in Wales has not changed, First Minister says

The First Minister of Wales has stressed that coronavirus advice in the nation “has not changed”, with people still urged to stay at home.

Mark Drakeford issued the statement after Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a televised address on Sunday evening, in which he announced changes to lockdown measures in England.

People in England will be able to take unlimited exercise and even play sports from Wednesday, with Mr Johnson adding that they could travel to other destinations.

But in Wales, these changes do not apply as the Welsh Government has control over which restrictions are in place.

Mr Drakeford said: “This evening, the Prime Minister has set out the minor changes, which are proposed to the lockdown rules in England over the next three weeks.

“I set out the modest changes to the stay-at-home regulations we are making in Wales on Friday.

“These will come into force tomorrow afternoon.

“Here in Wales, we will change the regulations so people can exercise more often and allow garden centres to open, if they can comply with social distancing.

“Our advice has not changed in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford said people should stay at home wherever possible and remain local for work, exercise and shopping.

He cautioned that Mr Johnson’s “road map for the future” was at an early stage as it will depend on how Covid-19 behaves over the coming weeks and months.

“We will continue to make decisions, which are right for Wales, using information and expert advice about how coronavirus is circulating here to keep us safe,” Mr Drakeford said.

“The health of the public is paramount. It will inform our decisions and we will continue to inform you as we plan for our future in the weeks ahead.”

During his address, Mr Johnson said schools could be re-opened on June 1.

But Mr Drakeford confirmed that schools in Wales will not “return to normal” on that date.

Earlier, he stressed that the “stay home” message had not changed in Wales, and remained the best way to protect people from coronavirus.

On Sunday, the UK Government changed its slogan from “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” to “stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there had not been “agreement or discussion” about the slogan with the other UK nations.

Speaking after Mr Johnson’s statement, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price described Mr Johnson’s message as “confusing and dangerous”.

“The UK Government has cut itself adrift of the three-nation approach which now exists between Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,” Mr Price said.

“There is no clearer and simpler message than ‘stay at home’.

“Raising expectations of an early lifting of lockdown in England will lower people’s levels of patience, and moving too fast could be catastrophic for Wales.

“That is why we need the powers to pass legislation on travel and residency restrictions so that Welsh policy isn’t undermined by Westminster.”

From Monday afternoon, people in Wales will be able to exercise more than once a day – but must do so locally.

Garden centres will be allowed to reopen with social distancing in place, and local authorities can start planning how to safely open libraries and recycling centres.

On Sunday, Public Health Wales said a total of 1,111 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, an increase of 12 on Saturday’s figures.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wales was 11,344, an increase of 223 on Saturday’s figures.

Dr Giri Shankar, of Public Health Wales, said: “Novel coronavirus is still circulating in every part of Wales, and the single most important action we can all take in fighting the virus is to stay at home.

“We want to thank each and every person across Wales for doing their bit to help slow the spread of the virus.”

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