Plan to allow people to meet indoors in Wales – while parts of England bring in new restrictions

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

People in Wales may be able to meet indoors from Saturday, 15 August if coronavirus rates continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has told BBC Radio Wales.

At the moment only two households who are in a ‘bubble’ have been allowed to meet together indoors, and these extended households cannot be changed once arranged.

His comments came as England’s Health Secretary banned separate households from meeting each other indoors in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire following a spike in coronavirus cases.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will also confirm later on today that swimming pools, gyms and leisure centres can also reopen from Monday, 10 August.

The reopening of pubs, restaurants and cafes indoors in Wales has also been confirmed for Monday.

“We said a couple of weeks ago that, provided everything went according to plan, we would be able to reopen indoor hospitality – cafes, restaurants, bars and so on, on 3 August,” Mark Drakeford told radio station Heart South Wales.

“It depended upon the state of the coronavirus. We’ve had the latest checks. We’re confident now that we’ll be able to go ahead.”

Mark Drakeford, however, emphasised that the pandemic is not over in Wales.

“We’ve all got to be aware that this virus has not gone away,” he said.

“It can surge back if you do things in the wrong way. In Wales, we continue to take a very cautious step by step approach.”

‘New low’

UK Labour criticised the UK Government for what they said was a confusing announcement made late at night about new restrictions in England.

England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement on Twitter at 9pm and later posted full details online at 12am.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

“But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the Government’s communications during this crisis.

The measures mean different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens. Individual households will still be able to go to pubs and restaurants but not mix with another household.

Mr Hancock, who tweeted the announcement at 21:16 BST on Thursday, said: “The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight tonight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.

“We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe.”

Plaid Cymru Dwyfor Meirionnydd candidate Mabon ap Gwynfor raised concerns about the fact that there were no travel restrictions on those under lockdown in England.

“If Greater Manchester is in Lockdown, will we still see people travel for days out and holidays to Wales?” he said.

 

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