Pubs, cafes and restaurants in Wales to reopen in August
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford announced on Friday his administration’s latest easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, which will see bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants allowed to fully reopen their doors from August 3.
Pubs in Wales will be given some initial leeway by being able to open licensed outdoor areas as early as Monday.
There will also be exemptions made to the two-metre social distancing rule still in place in Wales, although any businesses reopening where maintaining a two-metre distance is impractical must take necessary precautionary measures.
Drakeford said that such measures would include bringing in protective shields, increased cleaning regimes and close monitoring of capacity in outdoor hospitality areas.
He said: "If you are able to run a business taking all reasonable measures to sustain a two-metre distance that is what the law in Wales will require you to do.
"But we recognise that there will be some context and some business for whom that simply isn't practically possible and in those circumstances what the law in Wales will require is that those businesses will have to take a series of other mitigating measures."
Pubs in England and Northern Ireland have already reopened, while the Scottish government has set a date of July 15.
Hospitality businesses have also been allowed to open outdoor areas from Monday next week, with a further decision to be made on allowing them to open their indoor areas depending on whether there is an upsurge in cases.
Light contact team sports involving up to 30 individuals are also allowed to restart in Wales from Monday with the exclusion of scrum contact in rugby, while campsites, hairdressers, beauty salons, cinemas and playgrounds have been told they can reopen over the next few weeks.
July 20 has been set as a date for the reopening of outdoor gyms, playgrounds and community centres, while campsites and shared accommodation facilities have been given a date of July 25. The reopening of indoor gyms has not yet been confirmed, with Welsh ministers in continued talks with leisure companies over the safe reopening of gyms and indoor pools.
July 27 will see beauty salons, tattooists and nail bars resume their services, along with the reopening of cinemas, museums, and galleries in Wales.
Drakeford said that Wales’ chief medical officer Frank Atherton had “confirmed we have some capacity to ease the restrictions further over the next three weeks”.
The Welsh government has been informed by advisers that cases in the country are declining at a rate of two per cent daily.
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives Senedd, Paul Davies, said in the wake of the changes: "Yesterday we published a list of ten things we wanted the Welsh Government to deliver as part of its coronavirus restrictions review, today we have seen ministers adopt six out of ten of our proposals so we are pleased to see the Welsh Government following our lead."
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price urged the Welsh government to bring in a “test, trace and protect programme” in line with the changes, in order to quell any new outbreaks and avoid “a return to lockdown conditions”.
Industry bodies have also welcomed the new announcements, with CBI Wales praising the decision to ease the two-metre social distancing rule for some sectors.
CBI Wales said: “The move will have a material impact across tourism and hospitality who are desperate to get back on their feet”.
Meanwhile, Wales TUC said that Drakeford’s announcement offered certainty for the hospitality sector and would prevent future redundancies.