Lockdown in Wales: Hairdressers to reopen but retail remains closedon March 12, 2021 at 8:03 am

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People will soon be able meet friends in their garden, visit care homes inside and play golf.

Going to the hairdresser, playing a round of golf and meeting friends in a garden are all set to become legal again in Wales.

The Welsh Government is relaxing lockdown rules, with stay at home rules replaced by “stay local”.

Up to four adults from two households will also be allowed to meet up in a private garden in Wales from Saturday.

Non-essential shops remain closed until 12 April, although garden centres can reopen from 22 March.

First Minister Mark Drakeford also said self-contained accommodation would be allowed to reopen from 27 March, provided cases remained low, providing a potential boost to the tourism industry ahead of Easter.

The Welsh Conservatives accused the first minister of a U-turn over retail, which he denied.

Caravans

For people living in England, the “stay at home” rule will end on 29 March but holidays within the UK won’t be allowed until 12 April at the earliest.

Wales’ “stay at home” law will switch to “stay local” on Saturday.

There will be guidance on what that means, according to where you live.

“The rule of thumb is that you should think of local as a five-mile radius from where you live but if you live in a valleys community or a rural area you can exercise your judgement and go a little bit further,” Mr Drakeford said.

Graphoc

From Saturday 13 March:

  • “Stay at home” becomes “stay local”.
  • Four people from two different households can meet up outdoors to socialise, including in gardens – children are excluded from the number. Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the rules would allow people to walk through a house to access the garden, but added later people should not go inside the house to use the toilet.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as golf, tennis and basketball will be able to reopen.
  • Designated solo visitors can enter care homes.

From Monday 15 March:

  • All primary school children and those in qualifications years can return to class.
  • Schools will have flexibility to bring back year 10 and 12 pupils and more students will return to colleges.
  • Hairdressers and barbers can reopen – for appointments only.

From Monday 22 March:

  • Gradual easing of non-essential shopping and non-essential aisles in supermarkets.
  • Garden centres to reopen.

From Saturday 27 March:

  • Self-contained accommodation in Wales will be able to reopen provided case rates remain low.

From Monday 12 April:

  • All shops, including all close contact services, will be able to open – the same date as in England.
  • All other pupils will return to school.

Mark Drakeford said the easing of rules in Wales was the start of a “phased approach” out of lockdown.

He will give a more detailed timetable for easing restrictions during his lunchtime press conference, scheduled for around 12:15 GMT.

Mr Drakeford added: “We will monitor each change we make, so we know what impact each change has had on Wales’ public health situation.”

It has also now been confirmed primary schools will be open to all pupils on Monday.

Secondary school students in exam years (11 and 13) will also return to the classroom and schools will have the flexibility to bring year 10 and 12 learners back.

Vicky Lewis

Vicky Lewis, who owns Vicki’s Salon and Kidz Cutz in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, welcomed the news after another lockdown that had been “horrendous, boring and stressful”.

“I have had my salon for 22 years so I’ve been desperate to work,” she said.

“It is also really worrying as you don’t know if you still have your clients. It feels like I’m starting over again.”

Now she is looking forward to trying to repair the same “overgrown and scary haircuts” she saw after the first lockdown.

Mr Drakeford defended reopening hairdressers before all children were back in school.

He said “schools are our top priority”, and the scientific advice was clear that the safest way to get children back in class was to do so gradually.

Mr Drakeford previously said ministers would look to “begin to re-open some non-essential retail” at this review.

However, that will now begin on 22 March when garden centres can reopen and supermarkets remove the wrapping from their non-essential items aisles.

All other shops are expected to reopen from 12 April and the Welsh Government says it is making an extra £150m available to support businesses affected by ongoing restrictions.

Sara Jones, head of the Welsh Retail Consortium, said the delayed reopening of shops was “deeply frustrating” with the industry losing £100m every week in revenue during lockdown.

“At the last review the first minister opened the door for a possible reopening on Monday and many retailers have taken the leap and invested in their stores and furloughed staff in preparation,” she said.

“[This delay] will simply exacerbate the woes of a stricken industry.”

Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast said: “Three weeks ago I said we would be able to begin the reopening of non-essential retail and we will do that on 22 March because supermarkets and other shops that are allowed to reopen will now be able to sell the full range of good available – essential as well and non-essential.

“They won’t be able to do that in England.”

Garden centre bosses had been frustrated by having to close in lockdown while centres in England remained open.

Nicola Pugh, senior operations manager at Pugh’s Garden Village in Cardiff, said she was “delighted” at being given the go-ahead to reopen.

Nicola Harding

image copyrightPugh’s Garden Village

She said they had continued to grow plants locally at their nurseries so they were able to stock their centres in Radyr and Wenvoe.

“We are ready and waiting and have been working hard to ensure safe shopping for all our wonderful customers,” she added.

Bar worker pulls a pint

image copyrightPA Media

Mr Drakeford told Radio Wales he would discuss plans for the reopening of other sectors of the economy beyond the middle of April at his Covid-19 press briefing at 12:15 GMT.

“That will include hospitality outdoors, leisure centres and those gyms that can reopen safely,” he said.

“But the further you go from today, the more uncertain things become. We have got a new variant in Wales and nobody knows how that Kent variant will react.”

Man approaches Aegean Airlines plane

image copyrightGetty Images

The first minister accepted he was powerless to prevent people in Wales from travelling abroad if the UK government follows through on its plan to fully reopen foreign travel from 17 May.

But he said he was “asking UK ministers to think very carefully” about allowing foreign travel as early as that date.

“In September we had a really difficult period in Wales because people were coming back from all parts of Europe… bringing infection with them,” he said.

“I really don’t want everything we have done together, the sacrifices we have made, to be put at risk by an importation of the virus.”

A map of Covid case rates across Wales, over a seven day period between 28 February and 6 March 2021

For a period in December, the case rate in Wales was one of the highest in the world – and lockdown was brought in just before Christmas.

However, the rate has fallen significantly during the restrictions and as the vaccination programme is rolled out -it is now at 43 cases per 100,000 people.

The Wales case rate is now at its lowest since 17 September and while it has edged up slightly for the first time since the end of January, it remains below the 50 cases per 100,000 “circuit-breaker” threshold.

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, welcomed the end of the stay at home rules but said: “Labour’s U-turn on the opening of non-essential retail at such short notice will be a hammer blow for many businesses, and the decision to now align with England in that area shows we could’ve adopted a similar roadmap weeks ago.

“The ongoing refusal by Labour ministers to do so will only increase frustration in the sectors worst hit by the pandemic and will put more Welsh jobs at risk.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said travel restrictions should be eased with caution and the “stay local” message should be introduced “for as long as necessary”.

“Any relaxation of restrictions need to be done slowly and steadily,” he said.

Mr Price also called on the Welsh Government to provide “the clearest plan possible about the road ahead of us”.

In England, all restrictions will be lifted by 21 June at the earliest, as part of a four stage “roadmap” based on certain conditions being met, such as a successful vaccine rollout.

Scotland has announced that more people will be able to meet up outside from Friday, 12 March, which is earlier than expected.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is still to outline its plans to relax restrictions.

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