Wales to allow people to meet others outdoors from Monday

People in Wales will be allowed to meet up with others outdoors from Monday, the First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said a relaxing of lockdown rules meant people from two different households will be able to meet as long as they do not travel more than five miles.

Under new “stay local” guidelines, which replace the “stay at home” message previously used by the Welsh Government, people will still need to observe social distancing when meeting in public or private outdoor spaces.

Exceptions will allow for travelling to work, to seek care, and shopping for essentials if they are not available locally.

The easing of lockdown rules will be formally set out by Mr Drakeford at the Welsh Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, before the new rules come into force on Monday.

Further plans to relax restrictions in the coming weeks are also expected to be discussed at the briefing.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Mr Drakeford said: “We know people have missed seeing their families and friends over the last three months while the stay-at-home regulations have been in place.

“From Monday, people from two different households in the same local area will be able to meet up outdoors. They must continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

“We are also asking people to stay local – by local we mean, as a general rule, not travelling more than five miles from home to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

“There will be exceptions – for example, travelling to work, to seek care and shopping for essentials if they aren’t available locally.

“Staying local will help keep Wales safe.”

In a video posted online on Thursday, Mr Drakeford thanked the public for their “help” and “sacrifice” to stop the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus cases in Wales
(PA Graphics)

He said: “I know being separated from family and friends is difficult.

“During this review we have been looking at how we can do this once more, in a very careful and cautious way, without increasing the risk of the virus spreading.”

But following reports about Friday’s announcement, the former leader of the Welsh Conservative group criticised the “arbitrary” five-mile restriction on travel.

Andrew RT Davies, MS for South Wales Central, said: “First and foremost, I welcome the Welsh Government’s decision to allow people from different households to meet, which is great news to many people and families in Wales.

“However, whilst this is the right course of action, the First Minister is in danger of giving with one hand and taking away with another by imposing this arbitrary five-mile travel rule. It must go.

“Not everyone in Wales lives in a town or city close to family and friends and this will unfairly impact on those in our rural communities.

“I therefore politely ask the First Minister to change this regulation prior to tomorrow’s announcement and ensure everyone in Wales can have the pleasure of seeing their family and friends next week.

“If he chooses not to, then the Welsh Labour Government should share the scientific evidence on which this decision has been made with the public.”

On Thursday, Public Health Wales announced a further 14 people had died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing its total confirmed deaths to 1,307, though the true number is known to be more than 2,000.

Another 72 cases of the virus were also reported, bringing the total of confirmed cases in Wales so far to 13,725.

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