Stay-at-home restrictions will continue in Wales as the youngest pupils begin returning to school from Monday, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today.
From Monday 22 February, children aged three to seven will begin returning to schools in a phased way, while some vocational learners on courses that require practical learning, will return to college.
Following the latest review of coronavirus restrictions, the Welsh Government also announced some minor changes to the current rules:
- From Saturday 20 February, four people from two different households will be able to meet outdoors for socially distanced local exercise. This doesn’t apply to private gardens.
- From March 1, the law will be changed to allow licensed wedding venues, such as visitor attractions and hotels, to re-open but only to perform wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.
- Sport Wales will make arrangements for more of our talented athletes to resume training and playing.
- With more people living and working in older people’s care homes being vaccinated, we will look again at our guidance for care home visiting.
The First Minister said:
I know the last few months of lockdown have been a huge challenge for so many of us, but I want to thank everyone for the way we have worked together as a team to drive infection rates down.
As coronavirus cases fall, and our successful vaccination programme protects more people every day, there are reasons to be optimistic.
Our youngest learners will begin going back to school from 22 February and, if the situation continues to improve over the next three weeks, we hope more primary school children and older students will be able to return from 15 March.
We are also able to make some very modest changes to the regulations from 20 February as we take some very cautious steps to relax some of the strictest lockdown restrictions we have all been living with for so long.
We are seeing encouraging green shoots as we move into spring, with better weather and brighter days ahead, coronavirus cases falling and our amazing vaccine roll-out continuing at pace. We have seen, however, time and again the world over, just how quickly the situation can deteriorate in a matter of weeks. But, if we work together to keep Wales safe, we will see more elements of normal life returning.
The next three-week review of the regulations will also consider the restrictions around non-essential retail and close contact services.
The Welsh Government’s traffic-light Coronavirus Control Plan has been revised to take account of the emerging new variant strains of the virus and the impact of the vaccine programme.