New exercise rules in Wales but lockdown remains
For the first time since lockdown was announced on the 23 March parts of the UK have begun to loosen the restrictions with some “very small and modest” changes.
The First Minister for Wales Mike Drakeford gave a speech on Friday to reiterate his position on the country’s lockdown restrictions. It came a day after the Welsh government released a statement warning the government against “sending mixed messages” to the public.
Efficiency of social distancing against coronavirus
In his speech Mr Drakeford announced that the efficacy of the social distancing measures up to this this point had given him confidence that some changes could be made. He said:
"We believe there are some small and modest adjustments, which we could make to the regulations… These very small and modest adjustments are things we know that we can do safely without having an impact [on the rate of infection]”.
In a Downing Street briefing on Thursday evening the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had hinted that there may be some minor changes made in the near future as the UK begins to ease its way out of lockdown. Mr Drakeford said that Wales’ alterations were based on new data suggesting that the risk of COVID-19 is reduced outdoors.
"The first [change] will be to the once-a-day exercise rule: the more we learn about coronavirus the evidence shows us that the risk of infection is reduced outdoors," he said.
"We will adjust our regulations to allow people to go out and exercise more than once a day but we will strengthen our regulations to make it clear that that exercise must be local. It should begin and end at home and it should not involve any significant travel away from home."
Restaurants and bars will remain closed but there is some loosening of restrictions of public spaces with garden centres to be opened from Monday, provided they can adhere to the 2 metre social distancing guidelines.
Mr Drakeford also announced that some thought could now be put into the steps required to prepare for some public services to begin functioning again.
“We propose changing the regulations to allow local authorities to begin planning how safely to reopen libraries and municipal recycling centres."
None of these changes will make a marked difference on daily life but they do show that there is now some willingness to loosen the restrictions when the data shows that it can be done safely. Boris Johnson will give a speech on Sunday to announce his intentions for the UK’s next steps