THIS week Boris Johnson announced England’s roadmap out of lockdown, including key dates on when children can go back to school, when non-essential retail can reopen, and when all restrictions could be lifted.
Wales is yet to publish an official roadmap, instead opting to look no further than six weeks – or two three-week review cycles of lockdown restrictions – ahead.
On Wednesday, health minister Vaughan Gething explained why the Welsh Government had not set out – at least publicly – a long-term plan for seeing the country reopen.
“I think forecasting much further into the future is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty,” he said.
“At various points trying to give long term forecasts has made a mug of a range of people, whether it’s coronavirus being sent packing in 12 weeks, or a vaccine by September or substantial normality by December, all of those things have proven to be long term punts that haven’t fared well with reality.
“We’re doing something that is forecasting a reasonable amount into the future with a three week review.
“We’ll be upfront about what that means, [and] what the next review might mean as well, to give people enough time to get used to the practical progress we’re making and to take account of what we’re all managing to do together to help suppress coronavirus rates here in Wales.”
What has been announced for Wales?
Wales is ahead of England at the moment with regards to children returning to school, with a phased approach meaning the youngest pupils were back in their classrooms this week.
And from February 19, up to four adults, from a maximum of two households, were able meet up outdoors for exercise.
As long as there is no substantial increase in the virus’ circulation, from March 1, wedding venues will reopen for limited size weddings and civil partnerships.
The next review of restrictions will be held on March 12. Here – again if progress continues to be made – the ‘Stay at Home’ rule could be lifted – changing to ‘Stay Local’.
From that Monday, March 15, primary school children, plus those in years 11 and 13 – and those in college doing equivalent qualifications – and those in years 10 and 12 entered for qualifications this year, can return to school.
The Welsh Government will also consider reopening some non-essential retails and close-contact services.
Self-contained holiday accommodation and tourism industry could reopen for Easter, and the results of the following review will be announced on April 2 (Good Friday).
How does this compare to England?
England has announced its roadmap out of lockdown in four stages, starting on March 8, and then at key points, five weeks apart, through until June 21.
However, the dates for stages two to four are not set in stone, as four conditions must be met before proceeding to the next one. These are:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan;
- Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment;
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions;
- New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.