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Wales lockdown: Shops, pubs and gyms to reopen after firebreak

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  • Coronavirus pandemic
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image captionNon-essential retail was forced to close in Wales last Friday

Non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and leisure centres will reopen after Wales' firebreak lockdown ends, the first minister has promised.

The venues will be able to reopen on "essentially the same terms", Mark Drakeford said.

But there were issues to be resolved on what rules there should be on household gatherings and travel, added.

Welsh Tory Senedd leader Paul Davies said ministers should tell people now what their strategy is.

Mr Drakeford told WalesOnline: "Many of the things that people have not been able to do in these two weeks, we plan to restore."

Earlier, Welsh Government Counsel General Jeremy Miles said ministers were working on a new set of national rules for after 9 November.

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image captionPeople in Wales are being asked to stay at home until 9 November

From 23 October, non-essential retail, hospitality and gyms have had to shut their doors for the firebreak.

People have been asked to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, with travel restricted.

The Welsh Government said it was necessary to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed with coronavirus cases.

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New restrictions 'in coming days'

Mr Drakeford said he anticipated "shops that are closed at the moment will be able to reopen" and that restaurants, bars, cafes gyms and leisure centres will be able to reopen "essentially on the same terms as they traded before the lockdown began".

But he said "two of the issues that are the trickiest to resolve" are rules around household gatherings and travel.

"On both of those there is a lot of discussion still to be had. I'm keen that we resolve it by the end of this week or the beginning of next to give people as much notice we can of what will happen when the firebreak is over."

The first minister said the system of local lockdowns had been "complicated".

"I think the feeling is we would be better with a simpler, national set of rules," he said, although he said it did not mean there would not need to be local action.

Ministers 'could have worked closer with supermarkets'

Meanwhile, he admitted the Welsh Government could have worked more closely with supermarkets on his decision to bar them from selling non-essential goods.

The announcement prompted criticism last week.

Mark Drakeford said he was taken by surprise by the strength of reaction to the announcement last week though admitted the Welsh Government could have worked more closely with supermarkets.

He said: "We would have perhaps avoided some of the mistaken communication that led to places thinking that things couldn't have been sold when they could."

He said the government could have worked harder to explain to people that it was "not the fortnight" to be going out browsing in shops and added: "The more people we meet, the more coronavirus likes it."

On Monday, Tesco apologised after saying it could not sell sanitary towels and tampons from a store in Cardiff.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPubs will reopen at the end of the lockdown period

More detail 'in the coming days'

At a press conference earlier, Mr Miles said Mr Drakeford would announce "in the coming days" any restrictions on travel or visiting families that would remain in place after 9 November

"We can expect to hear from the first minister, I think in the coming days, with a clearer picture of what is ahead following those discussions and following those decisions."

The Welsh Government is due to hold a further press briefing on Friday.

Before the firebreak began, 17 areas across Wales were already under local lockdown.

Paul Davies of the Welsh Conservatives said ministers should have been discussing what the new rules would be "before now".

"We don't know what the plan is," he said.

"People want to know what the next steps are and businesses need to know so they can plan ahead."

Caroline Jones, a Member of the Senedd with the Independent Alliance for Reform, said: "We do not believe Covid-19 is spread mostly in gyms, shops, hairdressers or the majority of pubs and clubs.

"The majority of businesses have ensured their premises are adapted to meet all requirements but if we continue to impose lockdowns these measures will, in the medium to long-term cause untold harm to people's health, wealth and well-being."

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