WALES will relax rules on outdoor exercise by allowing four people from two different households to work out together from tomorrow.
The move by the country’s First Minister Mark Drakeford will pile pressure on Boris Johnson to ease restrictions for cooped up people in England.
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It comes despite Cardiff announcing its stay-at-home message will remain in place for at least another three weeks.
Mr Drakeford said under the new relaxed rules people should exercise “from their own front doors” and not stray far.
He said: “We know the mental health impact of having to remain at home, if four people can meet up for exercise we hope that’s a marginal easement.
“This does not mean that it is permissible for people to drive somewhere to exercise and it does mean exercise, not socialising.”
The news came amid a flurry of announcements as Wales charted its gradual path out of lockdown.
Primary school children will be back in the classroom on Monday and non-essential shops and hairdressers could reopen within three weeks.
The “cautious” timetable for rolling back restrictions will further add to calls from Tory MPs for Boris Johnson to speed up the easing of curbs in England.
He announced kids between three and seven will return to school from Monday, with all other primary years plus secondary students in exam years set to return on March 15 if the data stays positive.
Schools in England aren’t due to go back until March 8 at the very earliest.
The stay at home measures will stay in place for another three weeks, however, he said.
But from tomorrow, four people from two different households will be allowed to exercise outdoors together to help those struggling with lockdown, he announced at lunchtime.
Mr Drakeford told a press conference: “This does not mean that it is permissible for people to drive somewhere to exercise and it does mean exercise, not socialising.”
Cases of coronavirus in Wales are at the lowest level since the end of September – and the R number is still below one.
The next review will be held in the week of the 8 March – and getting kids back to school will be the priority.
He added: “If things remain on track, our aim still be for all children returning to face to face learning from the 15 March.”
Almost 840,000 people in Wales had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, equivalent to one third of the country’s adult population.
And they are on track to hit the target of vaccinating all over 50s by the end of April too.
He revealed Cardiff is locked in talks with retailers and contact professions like hairdressers about a possible reopening of their businesses in the middle of next month too “if the health data allows”.
Ministers are also looking at how to safely restart weddings from March 1 – and care homes too.
And he would be in talks with the hospitality industry about allowing some accommodation to reopen again too – hopefully in time for Easter.
Mr Drakeford revealed he’s also set to hold talks with business chiefs about reopening non-essential shops and personal services like hair dressers within weeks.
He said: “I don’t believe it will be a wholesale reopening. We are going to do things carefully, step by step, always assessing the impact of any actions that we take.
“If it is possible on the 15th of March to begin the reopening of some aspects of non-essential retail and personal services such as hairdressing then of course that is what we would want to do.
“But it will be in that careful step by step way and always making sure we are carefully monitoring the impact of any lifting of restrictions on the circulation of the virus.”