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Welsh Government eases lockdown travel rules

Wales’ tourism sector starts to re-open as restrictions are relaxed

Mark Moran
26 March 2021
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford

 

Wales has become the first UK nation to end travel restrictions within country boundaries since lockdowns were re-imposed in winter.

The Welsh Government’s First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that the ‘stay local’ rules in Wales will be lifted from 27 March and unrestricted travel within its borders will be allowed. However non-essential travel to and from other UK nations will be banned for at least two weeks.

Self-contained holiday accommodation, including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service, will be able to reopen to people from the same household or support bubble.

The rules will also be changed to enable organised outdoor activities and sports for children and under-18s to take place and up to six people from two different households to meet and exercise outdoors.

The move by the Welsh government will also see rules on the number of people who can meet outdoors - including in private gardens - eased. Six people from two households will be able to meet up, an increase from the current four-person limit.

The relaxations continue the Welsh Government’s step-by-step approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions, which take account of the highly-infectious Kent variant that is now the dominant form of the virus in Wales.

These are the final stages of the relaxations in this three-week review cycle and they follow the return of primary pupils and many older secondary school and college students to face-to-face learning and the start of the phased re-opening of non-essential retail, including the opening of hairdressers and barbers.

Wales is moving out of alert level four and now starting to move into level three. Welsh Ministers will consider further alert level three measures in the next review of the regulations.

The First Minister said: “These further relaxations are part of our careful and phased approach to unlocking the restrictions and enabling people and businesses to resume their activities in the safest possible way. We’re only able to do this because of the sacrifices everyone across Wales has made over the last few months.

“The public health position remains stable; our incredible vaccination programme goes from strength to strength – we have headroom to make these changes.”

The stay local rule will be replaced by an interim all-Wales travel area, which will remain in place until 12 April, subject to the public health situation. For the next two weeks, only those with a reasonable excuse, such as work, will be able to travel into or out of Wales. 

The current restrictions on international travel for holidays will remain in place.

Other changes include:

  • Six people from two different households, excluding children under 11, will be able to meet and exercise outdoors and in private gardens
  • Organised outdoor activities and sports for children and under 18s will be able to resume
  • There will be a limited opening of outdoor areas of some historic places and gardens
  • Libraries and archives will be able to re-open.

The next review of the regulations will take place next week. Welsh Ministers will consider the following relaxations, which will come into effect from April 12, subject to the public health situation:

  • All pupils and students can return to schools, colleges and other education
  • All shops and close contact services can open
  • The interim all-Wales travel area can be lifted.

A decision on whether to permit pubs, restaurants and cafes to reopen outdoors will not be taken until at least 22 April.

The UK government does not plan to ease stay at home restrictions in England until 29 March, but ministers will urge people to remain local as much as possible.

 
 
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