Wales to move to ‘stay local’ rules from Saturday

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Wales will move to a “stay local” requirement for at least the next three weeks as the country eases some of its coronavirus restrictions, First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce on Friday.

The current “stay-at-home” restrictions will be lifted from Saturday and are expected to allow people from rural areas to travel greater distances than those who live in urban towns and cities.

From Saturday, four people from two households will also be able to meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens – while outdoor sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts and golf courses, can reopen.

Indoor care home visits will also restart for single designated visitors from the weekend.

Hairdressers and barbers can reopen for appointments from Monday, the same day that all primary pupils and those in qualifications years can return to schools.

A man getting his hair cut
Hairdressers and barbers can reopen for appointments from Monday (Yui Mok/PA)

Non-essential retail, which was considered for reopening from next week, will start to reopen gradually from March 22, while restrictions will be lifted on what can be sold in shops which are currently open.

All shops, including all close contact services, will be able to open from April 12, the same date as in England.

Businesses that will be affected by ongoing restrictions will be supported by an additional £150 million from the Welsh Government.

Mr Drakeford is expected to say: “We are taking a phased approach to unlocking each sector – starting with schools.

“We will make step-by-step changes each week to gradually restore freedoms. We will monitor each change we make, so we know what impact each change has had on Wales’ public health situation.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford
First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

He said any new rules would likely last a “few weeks” before the country would allow greater freedom to travel, with the rules on travel needing to be relaxed to allow self-contained holiday accommodation to reopen in time for Easter.

Public Health Wales said on Thursday there were a further 195 cases of coronavirus in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 205,788.

The agency reported 12 further deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,424.

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