Coronavirus lockdown exit plan for Wales to be published


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Lockdown has been in force since March

A “traffic light” roadmap setting out how Wales could exit the coronavirus lockdown will be published by the country’s first minister later.

Emphasising the need for caution, Mark Drakeford will explain how restrictions on day-to-day life, schools and businesses could begin to be eased.

But Mr Drakeford told the BBC he would not put any dates on the plans.

He said people would get “fixated on the dates” rather than how you know the time is right to lift restrictions.

At a press conference later Mr Drakeford will warn that until vaccines or effective treatments are available “we will have to live with the disease in our society, and to try to control its spread and mitigate its effects”.

It will differ from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lockdown in England, which has set dates for when different sectors could reopen.

Lockdown in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is controlled by the countries’ separate governments – but in England it is overseen by UK ministers.

The Welsh Government has a different set of rules and has stuck to its “stay home” message, rejecting the UK government’s “stay alert” slogan adopted last weekend.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce a roadmap for exiting lockdown later

The Welsh Conservatives called for a timetable with taskforces set up to implement and track the roadmap’s progress.

Senedd Tory leader Paul Davies said: “What Wales needs is hope, ambition and a clear vision for the future – something the people of Wales are crying out for.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “The key to easing restrictions safely remains the implementation of a comprehensive and localised testing and tracing program.”

“The onus falls on the Welsh Government to urgently change gear” on its tracing plans, he added.

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Wales has different lockdown measures to England

The Welsh Government said in April that the lockdown could be lifted in phases through a traffic-light system.

During the red stage, restrictions may be lifted in a “careful and controlled” way. In the amber stage further restrictions could be lifted.

If the virus recedes, under the green phase life would look more similar to how it did before the pandemic began.

Plans are expected to involve increased testing, coupled with tracing of outbreaks.

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Traffic has fallen as people stay away from workplaces

Analysis by Felicity Evans, BBC Wales political editor

Don’t expect a timetable from the Welsh Government on Friday – unlike Boris Johnson, Mark Drakeford will not be putting any dates in his plan for easing the lockdown. But traffic lights can stop movement as well as start it and these tentative measures are likely to be easily reversible in the initial phases. So this won’t be a definitive document but one that’s likely to change as time goes on.

While some might find it too vague, Mr Drakeford believes his cautious approach captures the public mood.

Lockdown measures eased very slightly in Wales on Monday, with garden centres allowed to open and people able to exercise more than once a day.

But the UK government has gone further, opening estate agents and encouraging people to go back to work if they cannot work from home.

People in England can now also drive to exercise, but have been warned not to drive to Wales for the purpose.

Wales also has different laws in the workplace, telling employers to keep workers two metres apart.

On one part of England’s roadmap, Wales has already diverged.

Schools will not reopen in Wales on 1 June – but some primary pupils in England may return on that date.

Last week, Downing Street conceded Wales and the other devolved nations may move “at slightly different speeds”.

But the way the prime minister announced the changes in England on Sunday was criticised by the first minister, who said Boris Johnson “could have done more” to explain that most of his announcement applied to England only.

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