Coronavirus: two households may meet outside Wales from Monday


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Media captionFrom Monday, people from two households can meet

People from two different households will be able to meet outside starting Monday, the Welsh government will announce later.

They will have to stay in their area – less than five miles “as a rule” – and stay two meters apart.

The change is part of a review of lockdown rules in Wales.

The restriction on the distance people can travel has raised concerns that it will be unfair to those living in rural communities.

It has been illegal for groups of more than two to meet since the lockdown started in March.

Other parts of the UK have already relaxed the rules for outside meetings.

In Wales there will be no limit to the number of people from different households who can meet.

They are expected to meet in the gardens and away from home.

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Restrictions have been in place in Wales since March

Prime Minister Mark Drakeford will announce the results of his quarterly coronavirus lockdown review at a press conference later.

“We know people have missed seeing family and friends in the past three months,” he should say.

“From Monday, people from two different households in the same neighborhood will be able to meet outside. They must continue to maintain strict social distance and hand hygiene.

“We also ask people to stay local – by local we mean, generally, to travel no more than eight kilometers from home to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus as people start to travel more.

“There will be exceptions – for example, going to work, getting treatment and buying essential items if they are not available locally.

“Staying local will help keep Wales safe. “

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Some restrictions in Wales were more stringent than those in England

Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative member of Senedd for South Central Wales, said the five-mile rule was “arbitrary” and asked that it be changed.

Although he welcomed the Welsh government’s decision to allow different households to meet, he added: “Not everyone in Wales lives in a city close to family and friends and this will have a unfair impact on those in our rural communities. “

Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhun ap Iorwerth said the people of Wales “generally respected the lock restrictions well and understood the need for a cautious approach.”

But he called for a clearer plan on how the restrictions will be lifted. The key, he said, will be “the robustness of the Welsh test and monitoring system, which is due to start next week.”

The Welsh government has not set a date for lifting the measures in Wales, unlike England.

Current plans contemplate a traffic light type system consisting of red, amber and green phases, with more restrictions lifted as they progress.

What are the current rules?

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No date has been given for the reopening of parts of Wales’ economy closed by lock.

Since the end of March, people have had to stay at home, except for work, exercise and purchases of essential items.

Wales’s exercise restrictions are stricter than England’s – people have been told to stay local and not to drive.

Most non-essential retail businesses have been forced to close, alongside pubs and restaurants.

Exceptions include supermarkets, garden centers and pharmacies.

Schools are closed, but some provide child care for the children of key workers.

What’s going on in other parts of the UK?

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Different parts of the UK have different locking rules

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own lock rules.

In England, they are set by the British government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In the other three countries, they are set by their different governments.

Groups of six will be able to meet outside in England from Monday.

People in Scotland will be able to meet their friends and family outside this Friday. People have received “wise advice” so that they do not travel more than five miles for leisure.

Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said people from two different households can meet, but must be within two meters of each other. They must also stay outside and in groups of no more than eight.

In Northern Ireland, groups of six who do not share a household can meet outside.

The Prime Minister has been suggesting for some time that his priority in lifting the restrictions is to allow people to see their friends and family if it can be done safely.

I understand that the approach will continue to be cautious.

The strategy seems to be to make a small change and then monitor the reproduction rate of the virus – the R number.

This means that the rules in Wales may continue to differ from those in other UK countries, but Mark Drakeford believes that most Welsh voters support his cautious approach.

What is the R rate in Wales?

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Media captionWhat is the number R and what does it mean?

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the R number – the rate of spread of the coronavirus – is the most important factor in determining when lockouts can be relaxed.

If the R number is R2, it means that a sick person is likely to transmit the virus to two other people.

The Welsh government’s latest analysis suggests that the R rate in Wales is between 0.7 and 1, “but still below 1”. Authorities want it to remain below one.

It is believed that an R of 0.8 would cause an additional 500 coronavirus deaths in early August and up to 7,000 if the R reaches 1.1.


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