Covid: Tories demand Welsh Covid roadmap after PM's plan

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image captionThe roads out of lockdown differ for Wales and England

The Conservatives have called for Welsh ministers to produce a roadmap for the end of the Covid lockdown after the prime minister launched plans for England.

Boris Johnson has outlined potential dates for lifting Covid rules.

Last Friday the Welsh Government issued dates for opening some sectors, but Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said that had been a "missed opportunity".

The Welsh Government said it did not want to raise people's hopes too early.

Under Mr Johnson's four-step plan, all legal limits on social contact could be lifted by 21 June in England subject to strict tests being met on vaccines, infection rates and new variants of coronavirus.

Schools in England would reopen on 8 March, with shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality following on 12 April.

Mr Johnson told MPs the plan aimed to be "cautious but irreversible" and at every stage decisions would be led by "data not dates".

In Wales, ministers have pledged to follow a phased approach to sending children back to school, aiming to see all pupils return by the start of the summer term in mid-April.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has suggested allowing some self-catering accommodation to reopen in time for Easter, and that non-essential retail can begin to reopen from 15 March.

Stay at home rules may be lifted in three weeks, and hairdressers and other close contact-services may resume at the same time.

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image captionMark Drakeford's Welsh Government says it cannot provide dates to completely exit the level four lockdown

No dates have been provided for sectors such as hospitality or gyms.

A Welsh Government plan for easing restrictions said it cannot provide dates to completely exit the alert level four lockdown.

"How quickly we can move fully to alert level three, and the number of things we can do at each step are unfortunately not things we can set out in advance with dates," the control plan said.

"We will need to continuously reassess the impact of previous relaxations, consider the headroom available to make more changes, and consider the latest evidence on [variants and mutations of concern] and the impact of vaccines."

media caption"We really need to start moving forward now in a safe way"

Mr Davies said it was "time for Labour ministers to cut out the politics by working with the UK Government to adopt a common framework on key restrictions as we move out of lockdown".

"Last week's Welsh Government briefing was a missed opportunity to provide a route forward and announce greater support for business, and Mark Drakeford must now fill the void and outline a roadmap to recovery with windows of opportunity for people and businesses.

"The first minister should move quickly and either issue a roadmap to recovery for Wales, or better still, confirm he will work with the UK Government to pursue a joined-up approach."

'Gradual steps'

A Welsh Government spokesman said ministers had published a document on how Wales will come out of lockdown.

He said that faced with new variants of coronavirus, "we cannot provide as much certainty and predictability as we would like".

"Our approach will be to ease restrictions in gradual steps, listening to the medical and scientific advice and assessing the impact of the changes we make as we go along.

"We will give as much notice to people and businesses as we can. When we believe that it's safe to ease restrictions we will do so.

"What we don't want to do is raise people's hopes and expectations too early, and then disappoint them. We will align with the other UK nations when it is appropriate and makes sense for Wales."

How do the Wales and England plans differ?

By Ione Wells, BBC Wales parliamentary correspondent

All governments seem to be in agreement that they want this lockdown easing to be driven by data, not dates.

That being said, the UK government has provided a few more dates for lifting restrictions in England compared to Wales.

UK ministers have said all school children will be back in class in England by 8 March. In Wales some secondary school pupils may not go back until after Easter.

But there are areas where Wales is moving faster. The aim in Wales is for non-essential retail begin to reopen from 15 March: in England the plan is 12 April.

Welsh ministers have said their aim is for tourism to reopen for Easter, but their control plan has not given specific dates for that yet.

Currently, the lowest level - alert level 1 - of Wales's control plan for exiting lockdown still contains some restrictions such as licensed premises only serving alcohol until 10pm.

Meanwhile, while it will very much depend on the evidence, the UK government wants most of the economy in England open by 21 June.

When hospitality reopens, the UK government will also be lifting curfews and rules around having a meal with alcohol in England.

As ever, differences that do emerge may feel most stark in communities on both sides that rely on business from across the border.

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