Wales

Coronavirus: Welsh pubs and cafes to reopen indoors on 3 August

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Pubs, cafes, restaurants and bars can reopen indoors in Wales from 3 August, providing coronavirus cases continue to fall.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the date in a long list of changes to the country's coronavirus restrictions.

Exemptions will also be made to Wales' 2m distancing law, with businesses that cannot meet it expected to take precautions.

Hospitality businesses will be able to open outdoors from Monday.

Mr Drakeford said the opening of pubs, restaurants and cafes indoors would depend on how well the initial phase goes.

Campsites, hairdressers, beauty salons, cinemas and playgrounds are to reopen in the next three weeks, and outdoor activities, including "low-contact" team sports involving up to 30 people, can also resume from Monday.

But Mr Drakeford said rugby scrums would not be permitted.

Wales had previously been the only part of the UK not to set a date for the reopening of indoor hospitality.

Pubs had reopened in England last weekend. In Scotland they will be able to fully reopen from 15 July.

What else was announced?

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Media captionPubs and cafes can reopen inside from 3 August

In other announcements, outdoor gyms, playgrounds and community centres will be able to reopen on 20 July.

Campsites and other accommodation with shared facilities can reopen from 25 July.

On 27 July the following activities can restart:

  • Close contact services, such as beauty salons, tattoo shops and nail parlours
  • The viewing of occupied homes for rent or sale
  • Cinemas, museums and galleries

Rules requiring people to only meet one household when outdoors will remain in place.

Caution urged after Melbourne lockdown

Mr Drakeford said looking at "all the indicators together", the chief medical officer for Wales Frank Atherton "has confirmed we have some capacity to ease the restrictions further over the next three weeks".

Advisers have told the Welsh Government cases are falling by 2% every day.

But the first minister urged "a note of caution", citing the example of Melbourne in Australia which is re-imposing a lockdown after a fresh spike in cases.

No announcement was made on indoor gyms. Ministers are understood to be in discussions with gym and leisure companies about the reopening of indoor gyms and swimming pools.

Social distancing rule eased

The law enforcing the 2m social distancing rules in Wales will also be changed, so that businesses that cannot stick to the rule can use other measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Examples listed by Mr Drakeford included the installation of protective shields, increased cleaning, marshalls in outdoor hospitality venues and "extra rules in relation to the policing of toilets".

He said firms that can take "all reasonable measures to sustain a 2m distance" would be required to stick to the rule.

"But we recognise that there will be some contexts and some businesses 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."

What has the reaction been?

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Image caption Playgrounds will be able to reopen ready for the summer holidays

Welsh Conservatives Senedd leader Paul Davies said: "Yesterday we published a list of 10 things we wanted the Welsh Government to deliver as part of its coronavirus restrictions review, and we have seen ministers adopt six out of 10 of our proposals - so we are pleased to see the Welsh Government following our lead."

Wales TUC, which represents trade unions in Wales, said the announcement "will provide a level of certainty for the sector and help prevent future job losses".

And business body CBI Wales welcomed the easing of the social distancing rules: "The move will have a material impact across tourism and hospitality who are desperate to get back on their feet."

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said the changes "must be matched by a Test, Trace and Protect programme that is able keep up with increased demand. Without the ability to quickly stamp out any further outbreaks, this 'early warning system' is largely undermined and worse - we'll risk seeing a return to lockdown conditions."

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "We are looking forward to reopening our pubs in Wales. We will work towards the government reopening date."

Image caption Shibber Ahmed said the date means his restaurant is losing out

Shibber Ahmed, owner of the Blue Elephant in Llandudno, said his restaurant would be "losing out" from not being able to open until 3 August.

"The whole town is open," he said. "There are lots of people around, but we are not able to take advantage of it and we desperately needed that to cover our winter costs."

Emlyn Roberts, owner of Hebog café and restaurant in Beddgelert, has a one way system in its beer garden, ready for next week.

"We will be opening on Wednesday," he said, but "if the weather's bad we will waste a lot of stock."

Paige Davies, a fitness instructor at Dowlais Community Centre in Merthyr Tydfil, said she was frustrated at the lack of a reopening date for indoor gyms.

"I do a lot of fitness myself and being able to get back into it is brilliant for me. You hear gym members say 'when can we come back to the gym', then you feel disappointed that you're unable to provide something for them."

She said her gym had removed some equipment to prepare for social distancing. "We have to now limit how many would use the gym," she said.

Pubs 'have had weeks to prepare'

The first minister rejected claims pubs had not been given enough time to ready for the resumption of trading.

"This sector has had weeks to prepare for reopening outdoors, not three days. There is plenty of guidance out there for those intending to reopen," he said.

There was an "anxiety", he claimed, among the public in Wales "about going back to places where they may feel that their health and wellbeing would not be safely looked after".

Asked if the delay in announcing a date for indoor hospitality to reopen had risked thousands of jobs, he said the sector should spend the next three weeks doing things "that are necessary to make a success of the changes that are being offered to it" with outdoor opening.

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