Lockdown changes on meeting indoors postponed

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government

First Minister Mark Drakeford has ruled out easing the lockdown restrictions that prevent people meeting indoors with others who are not part of the same household or extended household.

Two weeks ago Mr Drakeford hinted that he “would like to be able to offer more opportunities for people to meet indoors” from this Saturday, but now says that after reviewing what has been happening elsewhere in the UK he has decided to postpone the change.

However, if conditions remain stable over the next week, from Saturday 22nd August up to four households will be able to join together to form a single extended household, and a meal following a wedding, civil partnership or funeral will be allowed for up to 30 people indoors if social distancing can be maintained.

Currently an extended household can only be made up of two households. Under the new rules it will not be possible to break up an existing extended household to form a new one.

“Wales has come together to tackle the spread of this virus and the action we have taken together has made a real difference,” Mr Drakeford said.

“The number of cases continue to fall, and this means we will be able introduce new changes to allow up to four households to come together and form an extended household.

“These are cautious, step by step changes. We are learning from what is happening across the UK and outbreaks are mainly linked to people meeting others inside the home. That is why it is so important we don’t invite people outside our extended households into our homes.

“We have made so much progress and we mustn’t jeopardise this. That means we are not at a point where we should be visiting anyone’s home at any time. Regulations on meeting outdoors were recently changed to make it easier to do, and this remains by far the safest way to meet.”

Mr Drakeford also confirmed amendments to the regulations will come into force next week to make it obligatory for hospitality businesses and other high-risk settings to collect contact details of customers.

“There are also indications from other parts of the UK where pubs opened earlier than Wales that outbreaks have been linked to those places,” he added.

“If we are to avoid introducing local lockdown measures that could require the whole sector to close, it is vital we can quickly respond to any outbreaks. Providing our contact details when attending these premises will mean people can be contacted quickly by our Test Trace Protect teams if they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

“Only by us all doing our part and taking personal responsibility for our actions can we continue to tackle the scourge of coronavirus.”

The Welsh Government recently strengthened the powers local authorities have to enforce the regulations. 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.

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