Next steps for Welsh lockdown due on Friday

Vaughan Gething

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Vaughan Gething said he believes there is “overwhelming support” for a cautious approach

The Welsh Government’s decision on to what extent lockdown restrictions will be eased in Wales will be revealed on Friday, a minister has said.

Welsh ministers are due to review the lockdown regulations the day before.

Boris Johnson has announced plans for all non-essential retailers in England to be able to reopen from 15 June.

Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told journalists the “cautious” approach being taken to easing the regulations in Wales would continue.

Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily coronavirus news briefing, he said he believed its position on managing coronavirus was “overwhelmingly supported by members of the public”.

But he said Welsh ministers wanted to do something about the “heartache” caused by family members being unable to see each other, if they could.

People in England are already allowed to meet one other person from another household, outdoors, and are advised to remain 2m (6ft) apart.

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Lockdown restrictions have now been in place for more than two months

Answering questions from reporters on Tuesday, Wales’ health minister said: “This week, we’ll have to make another set of choices about the regulations that are in place, what the next set of regulations will look like.

“And you heard the first minister speak last week about understanding the real heartache that this is causing for some families who can’t see other members, and we would like to think about how we could do something on that.

“But I think the cautious approach is still the right one and I think it’s overwhelmingly supported by members of the public.

“You saw, of course the pictures on this weekend of beaches in England that were packed and beaches in Wales where people are following the rules, and understand the importance of doing so to keep all of us safe here in Wales.”

The Welsh Government had “from the outset been clear” that there was a “harm” that came from lockdown, in terms of damage to the economy and people’s mental health, Mr Gething said.

He added that ministers were considering all such issues “as we move forward”.

What is the “traffic light” system?

Welsh ministers are using what they call a three phase “traffic light” system for removing, and if necessary re-imposing, lockdown restrictions

On 15 May Mr Drakeford said Wales was currently in the red zone, and would move into the amber and green stages over time, provided the virus is kept under control.

The red zone represented the “first steps on our recovering journey”, the first minister said, while the amber zone which would see more signs of returning to normal.

Life in the green zone would begin to look more like it was before coronavirus began “but not identical to it”, said Mr Drakeford.

The reopening of non-essential retail and services is listed in the Welsh Government’s plans for what could happen in the amber phase.

‘Serious harm’

At Tuesday’s presser conference, looking ahead to this week’s review, Vaughan Gething said there were a “range of potential choices that we could make to ease out of lockdown”.

“We need to consider those individually,” he said. “And we’ll then need to consider them together, and it may be that we can’t do everything that we might want.”

Other measures, said Mr Gething, “will have to remain in place to make sure that we’re not risking serious harm to the public”.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said all non-essential retailers in England will be able to reopen from 15 June, “contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus” and retailers following new guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.

England’s outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June.

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