Shops to reopen but ‘stay local’ rule to remain for two more weeks

Bangor High Street. Picture by Denis Egan (CC BY 2.0)

The Welsh Government is due to announce that non-essential shops will reopen but that the five-mile stay local ‘rule of thumb’ will be enforced for another two weeks.

First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce the latest changed to its lockdown guidelines at midday, and will then look at easing the stay local rule at the start of July.

The Welsh Government is expected to also give to go-ahead to outdoor non-contact sports, such as tennis, today.

What are the expected changes to be announced today?

  • High streets, shopping centres and outdoor markets can reopen with socially distanced queues
  • More details about the reopening of schools on June 29th
  • More guidance on ways in which different households can interact
  • Changes to which outdoors sports will be allowed to take place

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales this morning, Mark Drakeford said that the stay local message would last for two more weeks.

But he said you could visit a family member more than five miles away over the next two weeks if you were concerned about their well-being.

“If on 6 July, coronavirus is where we want it, we’ll confirm the stay local measures are over,” he said.

“If you have a compassionate reason to visit a family member and not stay local over the next two weeks, you will be able to do that.”

Minister Lee Waters said that the emphasis on allowing people to travel for compassionate reasons would underline the flexibility within the currently existing rules.

“It’s always been the case that people can travel beyond five miles to give care and support, the emphasis on allowing travel for compassionate reasons is to underline that,” he said on Twitter.

The end of the five-mile rule in two weeks means that tourists will be allowed to stay in ‘self-contained’ accommodation such as second homes, holiday cottages, static caravans and some hotels.

Tourism businesses will then be able to take bookings from a week later, Monday 13 July, Drakeford said.

 

‘Compassion’

The Welsh Conservatives have called for the immediate scrapping of the five-mile rule, saying that many trades will “go to the wall if they are forced to rely on local trade alone”.

“The lack of clarity from the Welsh Government on the reopening of Wales is impacting on personal relationships and the health and wealth or Wales,” Conservative MS Darren Millar said.

“Travel restrictions are keeping loved ones apart, unnecessary uncertainty over the reopening of businesses is putting thousands of jobs on the line, and money which would have been spent in Wales is going elsewhere.

“The Welsh Government must show some compassion, wake up to the dangers posed to the Welsh economy, and adopt a safe and sensible lifting of the restrictions to protect both lives and livelihoods.”

‘Transparency’

Plaid Cymru meanwhile have called for a “clearer roadmap” regarding how the lockdown will be lifted in Wales.

The party said it had mounting concerns over wellbeing and the economy. Plaid Cymru Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said the Welsh Government had to “convince people” that it was moving ahead as “quickly as possible” in the safest way.

“Wales’s adherence to restrictions has been very good, and this has been key to driving down infection rates and everyone can take credit for that,” Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said. “But as time goes on, inevitably people will become more and more frustrated at missing loved ones and deepening financial worries.

“Welsh Government has to convince people that it’s trying to move ahead as quickly as possible, and that it’s doing what it can to bring about a ‘new normal’ – including allowing business to open up gradually and safely and allowing people more flexibility to spend time with loved ones.

“It’s not about compromising on safety, it’s about transparency. Neither is it about comparing with what’s happening in any other one country – including England. Wales must do what’s right for Wales. But it is about seeing what international evidence as a whole tells us it is safe to do, and how quickly it can be done, with the correct precautions in place – including a robust, fast-working and far-reaching test and trace regime.

“Ministers need to be continuously testing and challenging the advice they receive, and modelling options for moving forward, and to do so in as public a way as possible. There’s no reason why the Government can’t provide a much clearer roadmap of how it hopes to lift restrictions in coming weeks.”

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