Coronavirus: Five-mile travel rule could be lifted in two weeks


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People in Wales have been told to stay local – restrictions that have not been in place in England

Wales’ five-mile travel rule could be lifted in two weeks so people can “travel as far as they like for all purposes,” the first minister has said.

Mark Drakeford will promise to review restrictions on travel when he announces changes to Wales’ lockdown on Friday.

For the past few weeks people have been asked to “stay local” – within five miles from home as a guide.

Mr Drakeford will now review the restriction by 6 July.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales, he asked people to do “one more lap” and observe the “stay local” message for two more weeks.

He said: “If we are able to confirm, that on the 6th of July, that the stay local restriction is over, and people chose to travel to those parts of Wales that are holidays destinations, those places now have two weeks to prepare for that.

“It’s a very sensible precautionary measure, it’s part of the careful and cautious way that we have been doing things in Wales.”

He urged people to “stick with the stay-local instruction.”

“It has really helped to bring the virus under control in Wales,” Mr Drakeford said.

“We need you to go on doing it, and if you do, then in two weeks we should be in a position where all this can be over.”

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If the five-mile rule is lifted, people will be able visit holiday destinations

But he said you could visit a family member more than five miles away over the next two weeks if you were concerned about their wellbeing.

“If you have a compassionate reason to visit someone beyond your local area, you are able to do that over the next two weeks as well.

Mr Drakeford said he had met tourism industry leaders on Thursday and “will be saying to the visitor economy in Wales that they should use the next three weeks to prepare to re-open self-contained accommodation in Wales during the month of July”.

The self-contained element was important because of the way coronavirus can spread.

“If you have a static caravan that has it’s own kitchen or bathroom, if you’re renting a cottage or going to a hotel that has turned itself into self-contained accommodation, there will be a clear signal from me today that you should use the next three weeks to get everything you need in place, and you will be able to start taking bookings for after 13 July,” Mr Drakeford said.

At Friday’s press briefing, Mr Drakeford will also give the go-ahead for all shops to open from Monday, so long as they comply with social distancing rules.

The reopening of outdoor courts for non-contact sports, such as tennis, is also expected.

Conservative politicians had criticised the five-mile guidance as unfair on people from rural areas, but the first minister said it was a “rule of thumb”.

One advisor to the chief medical officer has also called for a review.

It comes ahead of the reopening of schools on 29 June.

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The five-mile guidance has been in place since late May

Lockdown in Wales is controlled by the Welsh Government, which has emphasised a cautious approach to lifting restrictions as case numbers have fallen.

The original stay-at-home legislation was dropped three weeks ago, when ministers changed the law to allow people to travel within a local area.

Five miles was given as guidance for how far people should travel, although that was not set in legislation.

It coincided with a loosening of restrictions allowing two households to meet outdoors.

The Welsh restrictions stand in contrast to the situation in England, where people are able to travel with no restrictions.

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Non-essential shops are expected to be allowed to open from Monday

Welsh ministers are under pressure to go further and allow the tourism sector to open in some form for the summer.

On Thursday evening the Welsh Conservatives welcomed the move to reopen shops.

But Tory Senedd leader Paul Davies said it would be unfair to prevent retailers from opening immediately, and many will “go to the wall if they are forced to rely on local trade alone”.

He called for travel restrictions to be scrapped, for the property market to be reopened, and a timetable for the tourism sector.

Plaid Cymru said the Welsh Government should make clear what sectors are next.

Health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth called on the first minister “to relax restrictions as fast and as safely as possible and to consistently test and challenge the decisions they take as we move towards a new normality”.

But he warned the outbreak in his Ynys Mon constituency at a chicken processing plant “has shown that the threat of the coronavirus is still very, very real”.

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Mark Drakeford will make his announcement at a press conference on Friday

Mark Drakeford asked retailers in Wales at the last lockdown review to prepare for a possible reopening.

After queues when shops in England reopened on Monday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said he did not want to see large crowds outside reopened shops in Wales.

Retailers will be expected to follow social distancing laws which require firms to go as far as they can to keep people two metres apart.

Similar measures have already been in use in supermarkets and other retailers that have been allowed to remain open.



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