Wales announces 'traffic light' plan for leaving lockdown - here's how it works

15 May 2020, 15:12 | Updated: 15 May 2020, 15:18

By Mike Hughes

Wales will move out of lockdown through a three-tier traffic light system to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus, the First Minister has announced.

A new framework document published by the Welsh Government sets out how different areas including schools and businesses will see a phased transition back to normality.

Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government would take a “cautious” route that would be “putting people’s health first”.

Under the red, amber and green plan it hoped by staggering the reopening of the economy and wider society, the spread of the infection can be controlled.

The Welsh government has announced the system it will use for getting the country out of lockdown
The Welsh government has announced the system it will use for getting the country out of lockdown. Picture: PA

The stages are set out as follows:

Red

Schools to manage an 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

Amber

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

Green

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 has been criticised by opposition leaders in the Welsh Parliament.

Welsh Conservatives leader Paul Davies called the framework “hopeless” adding “we need to begin to unlock society but Mark Drakeford seems to have lost his key”.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price said the guidance was “thin on detail”.

Even under the most relaxed guidance, the public would still see changes to ordinary life compared to before the pandemic, with the Welsh Government working on the assumption that a coronavirus vaccine is still some way off.

Speaking as the document was published, Mr Drakeford said: "Over the last eight 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 four-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 two weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice, Stay Home, Protect our NHS and Save Lives.”

A significant challenge remains on ensuring the return to school for children and teachers is safe to do so.

Most schools in Wales have been closed since the start of the pandemic.

Last month, the Welsh Education minister published five key principles for schools returning which centred around safety and the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and staff.

A further framework has been published which has been described by the minister as “setting out our current thinking” for how schools, other education settings will operate with social distancing.

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Speaking as the guidance was announced Kirsty Williams said: “Nothing would make me happier than seeing our classrooms full again. But I want to be clear that this framework does not – and I will not - set an arbitrary date for when more pupils will return to school. Setting a date before we have more evidence, more confidence and more control over the virus would be the wrong thing to do.

"This will not be one decision but a series of decisions over time increasing, or if need be, decreasing operation. These changes will be complex, with many different considerations. I want the working document to be a stimulus for wider discussion and feedback.

“I am sharing this today to be as transparent as possible. I want everyone to know the extent of the issues related to the next phase.

“When we are ready to move into that next phase, I will ensure that there is enough time for preparation and for staff to carry out any necessary training.”

No timetable has been set out by the Welsh Government for when all pupils will return to school.

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