Roadmap published for Wales to leave lock down – but First Minister warns it is not a short term crisis
A twenty page document has been published by Welsh Government to ‘continue the conversation’ about unlocking Wales at some point in the future.
After nearly eight weeks of lockdown, ministers are setting out their proposals for the next steps, with a traffic light system set to be used.
The PDF (viewable here) includes a colour coded example list for various areas of society.
It is quite possible that Wales will be on ‘red’ for one type of activities, ‘amber’ for another and still in lockdown for a third.
The current R rate across Wales as a whole is thought to be between 0.7 and 0.9.
Welsh Government say: “Under current lockdown rules, people in Wales have to stay at home and maintain contact only within households, with limited exceptions.
“The restrictions presently in place are there for the express purpose of protecting people’s health and controlling the spread of coronavirus. The law in Wales makes it clear that these restrictions can only be kept in place for as long as they are necessary.”
The traffic light categories will apply across Welsh life, including:
- Reopening schools and childcare facilities
- Seeing family and friends
- Getting around
- Playing sport games and relaxing
- Working or running a business
- Going shopping
- Using public services
- Practicing faith and special occasions
The Welsh Government say the traffic light approach is based on:
Lockdown – Schools are only open to vulnerable pupils’ children and children of key workers, people are advised to stay at home, only leaving home for essential travel and to work from home if possible.
Red – Schools enabled to manage increase in demand from more key workers and vulnerable pupils returning; local travel, including for click-and-collect retail allowed; people allowed to provide or receive care and support to/from one family member or friend from outside the household
Amber – Priority groups of pupils to return to school in a phased approach; travel for leisure allowed together with meeting with small groups of family or friends for exercise; people able to access non-essential retail and services; more people travelling to work;
Green – All children and students able to access education; Unrestricted travel subject to ongoing precautions; All sports, leisure and cultural activities, as well as socialising with friends permitted, with physical distancing
The document makes clear that, given the importance of limiting social contact, decisions will need to be made on prioritisation – and invites views on this.
Welsh Government say decisions on every step will be informed by the Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Frank Atherton, the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group foe Emergencies (SAGE) and the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group. The Welsh Government will also learn from the experience of other countries, as well as the UK’s new Joint Biosecurity Centre.
To avoid a second, potentially still larger, second peak, the Welsh Government is putting in place the infrastructure needed to manage future outbreaks of the disease. This was set out in the ‘Test, Track, Protect’ Strategy, announced by Welsh Government earlier this week.
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said: “Over the last eight weeks, we have seen an incredible effort, from all parts of our society, to respond to the unprecedented challenge to our way of life posed by the Covid 19 virus.
“As a result, we, like countries across the world are able to think about how we can move out of the lockdown. But, it is essential as we do so, that we recognise this is not a short-term crisis. Until there is a vaccine or effective treatments, we will have to live with the disease in our society and to try to control its spread and mitigate its effects.
“The challenges we face are shared with all parts of the United Kingdom. For that reason, we have always strongly supported a four-nation approach to the lifting of the lockdown.
“But this has to respect the responsibilities of each Government to determine the speed at which it is safe to move and the balance to be struck between different forms of ‘easement’ – how to prioritise between allowing people to meet up with close family, to go shopping or to the hairdresser, to get back to work or visit the seaside.
“With limited ‘headroom’ to ease the current restrictions, choices need to be made and we want to make those choices in consultation with our partners and the people of Wales.
“That is why we are publishing this document, not as the final word, but as part of the continuing conversation.
“But for the next two weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice, Stay Home, Protect our NHS and Save Lives.”
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