Exclusive

Pubs and restaurants will reopen indoors on Monday, Welsh First Minister confirms

30 July 2020, 16:37 | Updated: 30 July 2020, 16:52

First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the changes in an exclusive interview
First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the changes in an exclusive interview. Picture: PA
Ewan Somerville

By Ewan Somerville

Pubs and restaurants in Wales will be allowed to reopen indoors from Monday for the first time in four months, the First Minister has confirmed.

Mark Drakeford announced the long-awaited easing of lockdown in an exclusive interview with LBC and Heart.

Ahead of an official speech on further rule changes on Friday, he said: “We said a couple of weeks ago that, provided everything went according to plan, we would be able to reopen indoor hospitality - cafes, restaurants and so on, on 3 August. 

“It depended upon the state of the coronavirus. We’ve had the latest checks. We’re confident now that we’ll be able to go ahead. And I’ll be saying tomorrow that indoor hospitality will be opening in Wales from Monday.”

Hospitality businesses in Wales were allowed to reopen outdoors-only on 13 July, but many - including large chains such as Wetherspoons - stayed shut, waiting for indoor curbs to ease. 

Mr Drakeford said Wales is “doing things in a more careful and cautious way” than England, and revealed that he has not spoken to Boris Johnson since 28 May. 

“That’s a while ago now, I’ve spoken more regularly to other UK ministers,” he said, adding he has spoken to Cabinet Office secretary Michael Gove twice this month. “Meetings with the Prime Minister are relatively rare, and we haven’t had one since 28 May.”

During the interview with Simon Jagger and Chris Wood, presenters at Heart Wales, Mr Drakeford also warned the risk of a second wave is “absolutely real”. 

“We’re seeing it in Spain, we’re seeing it in Germany. We’re seeing numbers up in France, let alone other parts of the world and we’re absolutely not immune to that here in Wales.

“It’s so important that people keep doing the right thing. Keeping a social distance. Washing your hands All the things we know.”

Mr Drakeford also said: 

- People need to “think very carefully” about travelling abroad this summer, and that Public Health Wales is following up those who return from countries such as Spain to ensure they self-isolate.

- He will happily go out for a meal when restaurants reopen on Monday because the social distancing and hygiene measures will make it safe

- He “never” reads the comments that people, critics and supporters alike, make about him on social media. 

- He urged Brits to consider a staycation in Wales this year: “It’s worth thinking about having a holiday in Wales. That’s what I’ll be doing. There are fantastic places to go on holiday here too.” 

But he added of any future second spike in Wales: “The danger is real and we can all do things now that will help mitigate that risk for the future.”

Should more outbreaks such as those at food plants in Wales over recent weeks occur, the Welsh Government hopes to combat them”rapidly... on a local basis rather than have a national return to restrictions”, Mr Drakeford said.

It comes after an outbreak at Rowan Foods factory, a major supermarket supplier, in Wrexham, which has since rippled to another spike in the Maelor hospital in the town. 

He said the issue is confined at present but that “of course we will see if we need to take further action”, such as a local lockdown, “if there is evidence of wider community spread”. 

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