Welsh Government has said it will ease lockdown restrictions in line with the other UK nations “when it is appropriate and makes sense for Wales”.
It comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan to ease restrictions in England.
Mr Johnson’s plan could see all limits on social contact lifted in England by June 21 at the earliest – should the ongoing coronavirus situation allow.
Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced her plans for a “progressive easing” of lockdown restrictions in Scotland.
The control plan sets out plans to “gradually” move into Alert Level 3.
Last week, minor changes to Wales’ restrictions were announced, with up to four people from two separate households now able to meet up outdoors for exercise.
Classrooms are also reopening this week for pupils aged between three and seven, with plans to reopen schools for all primary school pupils come March 15 under consideration.
The next review of the regulations in Wales, which will take place on the week beginning March 8, will consider the restrictions around non-essential retail and close contact services, such as hairdressers.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have clearly set out that our first priority is to get as many children and students back to school as possible. We have also signalled that in the next three weeks, we will consider the restrictions around non-essential retail and close contact services, and the possibility of reopening self-contained accommodation for Easter.”
The spokesman added: “In the last few months, we have made huge strides in rolling out vaccines and the public health situation is improving every day, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of everyone.
“But we have seen time and again just how quickly the situation can deteriorate in a matter of weeks and faced with new variants of coronavirus, we cannot provide as much certainty and predictability as we would like.
“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.”
- First Minister visits “fantastic” Caerphilly Miners’ Centre on campaign trail
- Calls to save 220 jobs at Kautex Textron – but can anything actually be done?
- Dispersal notice issued from this afternoon
- Lockdown blamed for traffic queues outside McDonald’s and Costa
- Aber Valley councillor to step down due to health reasons
Ben Francis, policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales, welcomed the “more hopeful tone struck by the First Minister”, as well as the signalling of “some hope for non-essential retail and close-contact businesses”.
But Mr Francis warned the outlook for businesses in the tourism industry “remains worryingly uncertain”.
What have the opposition said?
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “The picture seems to be improving by the week and everyone involved in the effort to drive down the rates of transmission should be commended.
“However, we’re not there quite yet in terms of being ready to relax restrictions on a national level.
“Infection rates remain high and the headroom we have remains low. At every step, action should be driven by data not dates.”
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said: “It’s 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.
“It’s time to stop being different for the sake of being different when it’s achieved so little and only served to cause confusion.”
Mr Davies called on First Minister Mark Drakeford to “outline a roadmap to recovery with windows of opportunity for people and businesses”.
Stay informed with quality, independent, local journalism…that matters
We believe the public should be informed about their community, coherently and with context. However, running a professional news service comes at a financial cost.
We are asking readers for their support to help us develop and grow our service.
Our membership costs from just £3 a month and in return, you can use our website without adverts.
Become a member – cancel anytime