Soon the lockdown guidance in Wales will shift from “stay home” to “stay local”, with several aspects of the Welsh economy expected to start reopening over the coming weeks. First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the easing of lockdown is possible as coronavirus numbers in Wales “continue to go in the right direction”. While lockdown measures will start to ease in Wales, further months of lockdown restrictions await people in England.
Boris Johnson has previously been accused of being too slow to lift the draconian rules England is currently being subjected to.
The forty-strong Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservative MPs have pushed the Prime Minister to reopen the country sooner, insisting all retailers could open by Easter.
Speaking as Mr Johnson announced the roadmap out of lockdown, CRG chair Mark Harper said: “By the end of April… by that point we will have vaccinated everyone over 50 and everyone over 16 who has a health condition who is vulnerable to Covid.
“Once you’ve protected people that make up 99 per cent of the deaths from Covid, it doesn’t seem to me that lots of restrictions staying in place are actually sensible.”
And with Wales and Scotland on a different reopening timetable to the rest of the UK, many are wondering why England is so far behind.
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How will lockdown lift in Wales?
Mr Drakeford said the easing of lockdown in Wales will be based on a “phased approach”.
Up to four adults from two different households will be allowed to meet in gardens from this Saturday, March 13.
From the weekend people will also be allowed to visit outdoor sports facilities again, including golf courses and tennis courts.
From Monday, March 15 all primary school pupils and students in crucial qualification years will be allowed to return to in-person learning in classrooms.
Hairdressers and barbers will also be allowed to open from this date, but limits will remain in place on non-essential retail reopening.
From Monday, March 22 there is expected to be some reopening of non-essential shopping, while garden centres will also be allowed to reopen.
Then from Monday, April 12, all shops are expected to reopen in Wales and all other pupils will be able to return to school.
If the Covid data allows it, Wales is also planning to reopen self-contained accommodation over Easter.
However, the use of Welsh self-contained accommodation will not be an option for people who live in England for some time.
Mr Drakeford said: “At Easter time, Welsh people will be able to travel for holidays over Easter within Wales, and to self-contained accommodation. The rules in England will not permit that.
“The Prime Minister’s roadmap says that for the weeks after March 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight.”
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But all pupils are not expected to return to school in Wales until April 12, according to the timetable.
However, the easing of restrictions on social gatherings and the reopening of some hospitality businesses, such as hairdressers, is scheduled to start much earlier in Wales than it is in England.
This may be due to the fact Covid cases in Wales are significantly lower than they are presently in England.
As of Thursday, March 11, Wales reported 195 new cases of Covid-19 in comparison to 5,744 reported in England.
In the seven days leading up to March 6, Wales also reported a seven-day case rate per 100,000 of 44.2, while in England this figure stands at 60.3.
Another reason Wales may be easing lockdown now is it is making progress in vaccinating its population against coronavirus, with the latest figures for March 10 showing a total of 1,034,141 people have been given their first vaccine dose.
In total, 32.8 percent of the Welsh population have now received their first vaccine dose.
Significantly, seven percent of the population have now received both doses of the vaccine.
England is also making solid progress in vaccinating its population against COVID-19, but cases may be considered too high to begin the process of easing more lockdown restrictions in England.
In England, lockdown restrictions are expected to remain in place until at least June 2021.
Under the Prime Minister’s roadmap plan, non-essential retail will open in England no earlier than April 12 and this will also be the case for indoor gyms and self-contained accommodation.
People will not be allowed to visit indoor hospitality premises, such as restaurants and bars, until at least May 17 in England.
No earlier than June 21, it is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed.