Stay local rule to stay in place for a ‘few weeks’, Health Minister suggests
A new ‘stay local’ travel rule is likely to stay in place for at least a few weeks, according to Health Minister Vaughan Gething.
Mr Gething made the suggestion at today’s coronavirus press conference, as the Welsh Government prepares to ease the current lockdown measures from a ‘stay at home’ rule to ‘stay local’ following a review on Thursday.
This will mean that it is unlikely tourism businesses will be able to reopen when the next stage of easing Covid-19 restrictions begins.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is due to make a statement on the reopening on Friday.
Vaughan Gething said: “It’s asking for people to stick with it for a period of weeks and to be sensible about it, to recognise that if like me and you’re fortunate enough to live in Penarth, then actually a few miles from Penarth you can do lots of things.
“Whereas if I lives in the middle of Powys or in the middle of Anglesey, within a few miles I might not be able to do that. So we do recognise that if we go to ‘stay local’ it will be slightly different depending on where you live.
“That’s something I think most people in applying our common sense recognise, so any guidance around that would recognise that too.
“A few weeks of that and then we think we may be in a position to go beyond that. But the First Minister will set out the confirmed thinking and the choices of the government when he speaks to you on Friday.
He added: “We do know that if we’re going to have an effective restart for parts of our tourism sector, you know, the self-contained accommodation, then that probably means that a ‘stay local’ period probably doesn’t mean that those businesses can open.
“So we are thinking about what ‘stay local’ would mean. The First Minister will confirm that.”
The First Minister recently told S4C Newyddion that he would not look any further than that for now as any further unlocking was dependent on case numbers in the interim.
He stressed that the Welsh Government would not take any steps that undid any of the gains won over the past two and a half months of ‘stay at home’ lockdown.
“What I want to do on Friday is to give a timetable for the next three weeks, but more than that as well to say something about what we can expect over Easter and into mid-April,” he said.
“Further than that, I think it’s impossible to say for certain as it depends on the context at that time. But I want to give people more certainty that in their lives, their businesses, and to do that not just for the next three weeks but on to mid-April.”
Mark Drakeford has previously suggested that non-essential retail will get the go-ahead to re-open at Friday’s press conference.
Hairdressers are also expected to be given the go-ahead to reopen on 15 March.
It is understood that the Welsh Government has already provided businesses with a checklist of rules before the announcement on Friday.
The rules will include limiting the number of customers, 2m social distancing, one way systems, and encouraging cashless purchases.
Other expected measures include an announcement that a ‘stay local’ rule will come into place rather than ‘stay at home’, and that self-contained accommodation will be allowed to reopen in time for the Easter holidays.
Schools will also be able to welcome pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 for “check-in” sessions before they are due back fully from mid-April.
All primary pupils, years 11 and 13, and some college students will begin to return from 15 March, with flexibility for year 10 and 12, to return.