Gyms and pools to reopen in Wales on Monday as local authorities given ‘enhanced powers’ to close premises

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Swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms and leisure centres will be able to re-open from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today.

Children’s indoor play areas will also be able to open their doors again as part of the latest changes to the coronavirus regulations in Wales. However, areas such as ball pits, which cannot be easily cleaned, should remain closed.

But the First Minister said he was also giving local authorities “enhanced powers” to close premises that did not comply with Welsh Law on coronavirus standards.

That included ensuring that people maintain a two-metre distance where possible and taking other measures to avoid close interaction; this includes screens, face coverings and improving hygiene.

“We continue to take a step-by-step approach to easing the lockdown, closely monitoring the impact of each change we make,” the First Minister said.

“As more parts of our society and economy reopen, it is vital we all keep in mind our personal responsibility to do the right thing and make sure we continue to protect ourselves and others from the virus.

“This means keeping a two-metre distance from others, washing our hands often and wearing a facemask on public transport. These are simple steps to take that benefit us all. The rules we have in place are not optional, they are there to protect us all. They are essential if Wales is to avoid another lockdown.

“As more and more premises are allowed to open, specific rules that apply to those premises, and to all workplaces, are particularly important because they are designed to keep us safe.”

The Welsh Government is continuing to explore whether changes can be made to the rules to enable people to meet indoors with other people who aren’t part of their household or extended household from August 15.

 

‘Enhanced powers’

The Welsh Government said it had also strengthened the powers local authorities have to enforce Covid-19 requirements. This enables enforcement officers to issue a Premises Improvement Notice to highlight breaches and specify measures that need be taken on premises to comply with the law.

Where a Premises Improvement Notice is not complied with, or if there is a serious breach, premises can be closed by issuing a Premises Closure Notice.

Where notices are issued signs will be displayed in a prominent place to inform people that improvement is needed or that a premises has had to close.

“For the small minority of individuals and businesses who are not complying with the law, I want to make it clear that we will take action and we won’t hesitate to close individual premises if that is necessary,” Mark Drakeford said.

“Local authorities are being enhanced powers to intervene, and to respond more effectively to complaints including those reported to the Wales TUC and its affiliated unions.

“As we have seen in many places around the world, this pandemic is far from over and we must remain vigilant. There is a significant risk cases in Wales could rise again and we will have to take further action if this were to happen. Only by us all continuing to do our part can we keep Wales safe.”

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