Coronavirus in Wales: Pubs and restaurants reopen indoors

First Minister Mark Drakeford tucked into chips on a visit to a reopened restaurant in Cwmbran Image copyright Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Image caption First Minister Mark Drakeford tucked into chips on a visit to a reopened restaurant in Cwmbran

People have spoken of their excitement and anxiety about socialising again, as lockdown rules are further relaxed in Wales on Monday.

Groups of up to 30 people can now meet outdoors and many young children will be able to play with their friends for the first time since lockdown began.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will also be able to serve people indoors.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted to allow people to enjoy socialising "while they can".

He said new coronavirus restrictions in the north west of England had given him "pause for thought" before announcing changes to daily life in Wales.

Bingo halls and bowling alleys also reopened on Monday and some cinemas opened their doors for the first time, although they were given the green light last week.

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Media captionA "scrumptious" socially-distant drink

While people have been able to enjoy a pint and a meal outside since 13 July, many pubs will open for the first time on Monday since the start of lockdown.

With some not having a beer garden, and less people able to be served due to social distancing measures, many - including major chains like Brains and Wetherspoons - had remained closed.

If your local pub does reopen on Monday, a trip to there will be very different with tables far apart, limited numbers allowed inside at once, and many using apps to order drinks.

'Groups able to meet again'

Image copyright Getty Images

At the start of lockdown it was illegal for people from outside a household to meet up.

But since rules were eased in June, people from two different households at a time have been able to meet outside.

Now groups of up to 30, from different households, are able to meet outside as long as they keep two metres apart, meaning many large families and friendship groups will be able to socialise at once.

Children under the age of 11 will not have to socially-distance from other children and adults, after Mr Drakeford said they were now exempt from social distancing rules as they had lower rates of transmission.

'They've been climbing the walls'

Image copyright Natasha
Image caption Natasha said while she had been able to use the garden and go on walks, lockdown had been hard with two young children

Before lockdown Natasha, from Newport, went out with her children most days, going to classes, play dates or taking them to nursery.

She said during the first weeks of lockdown it had been a "shock" and her children, age one and three, were looking forward to seeing friends again.

"If someone is shielding I wouldn't visit them with my children as I can't guarantee they will keep a safe distance," she said.

"For everyone else I don't see an issue with meeting up from Monday and welcome the new rules allowing children to mingle."

Image copyright Natasha
Image caption Natasha said it was important for her children to be able to play with others

Natasha, who teaches French and Spanish to children in Cardiff and Newport, said she hoped to resume some small outdoor classes soon so that parents and children could meet and learn face-to-face.

"I think it's really important that parents and children are able to socialise in person, get to groups and have some sort of normality," she said.

'It's too soon'

Image copyright Charlotte
Image caption Charlotte says she would love to socialise with Sebastian but it was "not the right time"

Student nurse Charlotte, from Cardiff, said she was not sure going to meet groups of friends with her one-year-old-son Sebastian was "right yet".

While the mum has been seeing family in her garden, she said not being able to see friends had been "quite isolating".

"I know they are taking the social distancing away for children, but not for the adults, so it's very difficult for the adults to stay apart while the children are next to each other, running away," she said.

"I can't take my eyes off him for one second and if he runs somewhere else, then I may be in contact with another adult, and its unavoidable.

"I think it needs a couple more weeks, I think with pubs reopening we need to see how that impacts the numbers, we don't know what's going to happen."

'Finally opening after four months'

Image caption Landlady Jayne Edwards said tables were booked up for the first day of reopening

At the Three Arches in Cardiff, landlady Jayne Edwards said she was excited to reopen, four months since the last pint was pulled at the pub.

Ms Edwards said lockdown had been hard on everyone, with staff furloughed.

Of Brains pubs, 40 will reopen on Monday for the first time since lockdown. The company said it was like Christmas Day come early.

"We are absolutely thrilled, it's been a long time overdue," Ms Edwards said, adding that people had to reserve tables online so they could be tracked if needed by coronavirus tracers.

"It will be very different, it's not going to be the same, and people will have to behave very differently," she told BBC Radio Wales.

'When can we sing together again?'

Image copyright Sound Women
Image caption The Sound Women Choir, pictured before lockdown, have not met in person since March

For months now members of choirs and bands across Wales have been practising online, via Zoom calls.

But while groups of up to 30 can meet up from Monday, there is no official guidance on whether musical groups should get together to practise again.

There are fears that due to the way the virus is thought to be spread, singers and musicians, such as those in brass bands, could be at risk.

Members of Penarth-based Sound Women Choir have sung together for years and musical director Tracey Gummow said not being able to physically sing together had been heart-breaking.

"We have been together for so long, it's almost as bad as not being able to see your family, for those who don't have kids around," she said.

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Media captionMark Drakeford visits a fish and chip restaurant in Cwmbran

Ms Gummow said the Welsh Government needed to issue "clear guidance" to community musical groups as, for some people, going to choir or band practice was the only time they saw other people.

"It's Wales' tradition, we are supposed to be a nation of song, and we are not able to get together and sing. How can we not be doing it? Why is this virus keeping us from singing?" she said.

The Cory Brass Band, ranked number one in the world, are currently preparing for an online championship, but said they had no plans to resume face-to-face rehearsals and were waiting for guidance.

The Welsh Government said while there was nothing illegal about people singing or playing instruments outdoors, it would not advise it, due to it being a high-risk activity.

Mr Drakeford urged people to continue to abide by social-distancing rules when going to the pub and meeting in groups.

"If we stop now, there is a real risk we will see new outbreaks of coronavirus and we may have to reverse some of these restrictions to control its spread again," he said.

"We are facing the likelihood of a resurgence of the virus over the autumn and winter - this will not be over by Christmas.

"We all have an ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe."

What about cinemas?

Image caption Julie and Riley Partridge went to see a movie at The Maxime on Monday

The date for reopening cinemas was last Monday but only now are a small number beginning to open, such as the Showcase in Nantgarw, The Regent in Newtown and The Maxime in Blackwood.

The Brynaman Public Hall Cinema is hoping to reopen on Friday.

The big chains like Cineworld and Odeon have told BBC Wales they still have not set dates for reopening here - while Vue has only announced plans to open 10 sites in England from later this week.

Gareth Sheward, general manger at The Maxime, said it had a steady stream of people but strict social distancing measures meant they could only have a fraction of the normal numbers through its doors on Monday.

"It was fantastic," he said.

"Seeing their reaction was good. There's a general positive feeling I think.

"It's just good to know there will be more people coming back to Blackwood because of the cinema."

Julie Partridge and her daughter Riley went to see the film Unhinged and said she was pleased to see everyone back at the cinema.

"You just got to get on with it," said Ms Partridge. "You still have to be safe. I had masks in my bag if we needed them. It was great."

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