Outdoor events to be trialled in latest easing of lockdown measures

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

A small number of small scale outdoor performances and sporting events are set to be trialled in Wales as part of a phased approach to the safe reopening of the events industry, as part of further changes to coronavirus regulations announced today by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Indoor visits to care homes will also be allowed from Saturday 29 August, subject to the strict controls set out in the government’s guidance and levels of coronavirus remain low.

However, the First Minister emphasised that the return of pupils to schools and colleges from 1 September is the top priority during this 21-day review cycle.

Initially three small events, with limits of up to 100 people, and subject to strict risk assessments, will be held across Wales later this month.

Outdoor events are being prioritised in this review period, while the weather is mild, due to evidence of lower transmission of coronavirus outdoors.

If these events can be carried out safely, and transmission of the virus remains low, it is hoped the next stage will be increased numbers of participants, allowing a limited number of spectators to attend sporting events and potentially considering trialling small scale business events.

The event’s being trialled are a number of live outdoor performances from Theatr Clwyd, Welsh Triathlon’s ‘Return to Racing’ competition at Pembrey Country Park, which will be a closed venue and without spectators, and a car rally at Anglesey Circuit/Trac Mon Racetrack

In addition, the Welsh Government we will continue to work closely with the UK Government to monitor the outcomes from the trials that have taken place recently.

The First Minister has also confirmed that from Saturday August 22, extended households can expand to include up to four households in an exclusive, extended arrangement. From the same day, weddings and funerals will be able to include a meal for up to 30 people, in suitably socially distant settings.

Subject to the successful resumption of weddings and funerals, it is hoped to further increase the range of indoor ceremonies allowed in the next review period, including christenings, baptisms and bar mitzvahs.

Casinos will be allowed to reopen from Saturday 29 August, provided they follow the guidance available to them.

Mr Drakeford said: “While coronavirus remains effectively suppressed in Wales and cases continue to fall, the situation in the rest of the UK and further afield is still problematic. Coronavirus has not gone away and so, as we move out of lockdown and look to the future, it is important we do this in a careful and cautious way.

“We appreciate how hard it has been for families not seeing their loved ones and the impact restrictions on visiting care homes is having on people’s emotional, mental and even physical health.

“In an effort to address this we have been working closely with partners and intend to allow indoor visits to care homes to recommence from Saturday 29 August, subject to the strict controls set out in the guidance and conditions remaining favourable.

“In addition we will trial three small scale events, in partnership with the events organisers, local authorities and other stakeholders, to  see if they can be carried out in a safe way, with a view to supporting the sector and making the most of the remaining summer months where we can spend time outdoors.

“We will also learn from pilots being conducted across the UK, in reopening professional sport and indoor theatre to supporters and audiences, so we base our decisions on the best possible evidence available. We will continue to talk with event organisers about the possible resumption of some other activities later in the autumn.

“But, for the time being, we need to learn from how we can safely hold outdoor events while maintaining social distancing.

“We will use the next three weeks to continue to engage with those remaining sectors of our economy that remain affected by coronavirus restrictions. I would like to thank the sector representatives for the way they continue to engage, coming out of lockdown will always be harder than going into it – but, together, we will do it in the safest possible way.”

Looking ahead to schools and further education colleges returning from the summer break on 2 September the First Minister added: “The return of pupils is the most significant important activity which will take place in Wales during the next 21 days and most of the headroom we have is being devoted to making this a success.

“It is critical that we get children back into schools in the safest possible way. All children in Wales have had the opportunity to ‘check in, catch up and prepare’ before the summer holidays, and we hope this will stand them in good stead for the changes they are due to encounter in the upcoming months.”

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