The changes announced by the First Minister included updates on outdoor gatherings and dates for venues including bingo halls, auction houses, gyms, and soft play centres to re-open
First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced the broadest package of changes so far to Wales’ lockdown measures.
After more than four months of closure venues like gyms, swimming pools, and indoor bowling alleys have all been given dates for when they will be allowed to welcome customers back.
In a wide-ranging review the First Minister also confirmed that children under 11 will no longer have to follow social distancing measures from Monday while groups of up to 30 people from any number of households can meet outdoors from the same date.
This is the full text of Mr Drakeford’s speech announcing the comprehensive rule changes for Wales:
“As usual we have carefully examined the latest scientific and medical evidence about coronavirus in Wales to see if we can relax the restrictions further and how much headroom we have to make changes. We have also looked at the situation around the world.
“I want to start by saying we have only been able to lift the restrictions because of everything you have done to reduce the spread of coronavirus – you have stayed at home, you have stayed local, and you have kept Wales safe.
“The result is that the virus is continuing to decline in Wales and we can once again, carefully and cautiously, go on lifting the lockdown.
“But coronavirus has not gone away. This pandemic will not be over by Christmas. This is why is so important that we all protect ourselves from the virus.
“That means keeping your distance from other people, washing your hands often, and wearing a face covering on public transport.
“The majority of the headroom we have will be used to relax the restrictions on people meeting each other.
“Licensed wedding venues will be able to re-open to provide ceremonies but indoor reception parties will not be able to resume until August 15 at the earliest.
“We will relax the restrictions to provide more flexibility in the way people can meet outdoors but it’s important that physical distancing is maintained at all times.
“We will also update our guidance to make it clear children under 11 do not have to maintain a 2m distance from each other or from adults. The scientific evidence shows the risk of transmission is lower among this age group. It will mean young children can meet their friends to play outdoors or give their grandparents a hug.
“If conditions continue to remain favourable, from August 10 swimming pools, indoor fitness studios, gyms, spas, and indoor leisure centres will be able to re-open. Children’s indoor play areas will be able to open.
“We continue to explore whether we can make changes to the rules on meeting people indoors from August 15.
“I would like to be able to offer more chances for family and friends to meet indoors. But this is one of the most difficult areas from a public health perspective because as people have more contact with each other indoors the risk of transmission increases.
“More than half of the cases our contract tracers identified in July in north Wales were linked to household contacts.
“Today we have seen indoor meetings curtailed in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire, and parts of West Yorkshire following a spike in coronavirus cases.
“Our step-by-step approach in Wales allows us to weigh up the evidence for each change we make and we will go on doing that for indoor meetings over the next two weeks.
“So, as you see, we are moving into the green phase in our traffic light system and as we do it is becomes even more important we all follow the new ways of working and behaving.
Use this tool to build a picture of how much the last few months changed things where you live:
“We all need to adapt to the changes, whether it’s booking an appointment and giving our contact details to support our Test, Trace, Protect system or complying with physical distancing and strict cleaning regimes.
“I want to thank all those businesses who have worked with us and are complying with the guidance to work in a Covid-compliant way – you are helping to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect people, ensuring we can go on lifting restrictions in the future.
“But I also want to say this to the small minority – whether they are people or businesses – who aren’t. We will take action to enforce the rules in Wales.
“Ignoring the guidance cannot be an option – we have legal powers which allow us and others to take action if some people’s behaviour becomes a threat to other people’s health.
“We are working with local authorities, with environmental health officers, with the national park authorities, and with the police to ensure the measures to keep us all safe are complied with.
“We will change the regulations to enhance local authorities’ environmental health protection powers. This will ensure premises are complying with re-opening requirements.
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News – Everything Mark Drakeford said as he unveiled big lockdown changes