- After nearly eight weeks of lockdown, the Welsh Government sets out its proposals for the next steps;
- Red, Amber, Green traffic light system to be used to ease lockdown restrictions;
- Exiting lockdown restrictions will be guided by the science.
A traffic light roadmap setting out how Wales could exit the coronavirus lockdown has been unveiled today by the First Minister, Mark Drakeford
The roadmap, Unlocking our society and economy: continuing the conversation, is part of a cautious, coherent approach to easing lockdown and builds on its sister paper, ‘Leading Wales out of the coronavirus pandemic: a framework for recovery‘ published on April 24th.
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.
Thanks to the heroic efforts made by people across Wales, which helped slow the spread of the disease, the First Minister is today announcing a red, amber, green traffic light system to define how restrictions on different areas of Welsh life can begin to be eased.
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 traffic light approach is based on:
- Schools are only open to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers
- people are advised to stay at home, only leaving home for essential travel
- to work from home if possible.
- 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
- 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
- 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. 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.
Decisions on every step will be informed by the Wales’ Chief Medical Officer, Frank Atherton, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for 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 8 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 4-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 2 weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice, Stay Home, Protect our NHS and Save Lives.