Wales will move down to ‘alert level two’ on Monday (May 17), as coronavirus cases remain low and the vaccination programme continues at pace.
It’s amazing news and feels like we’re firmly on the path to recovery after a horrid 12 months or more.
Further easing of restrictions on Monday will see – among other things – indoor service resume in pubs, restaurants and cafes across Wales, and it’s another welcome step towards normality.
But we need to stay alert. We’ve seen lots of twists in this pandemic, and even this week we’ve seen fresh concerns about the so-called ‘Indian variant’ of the virus.
So sticking to the basics – social distancing, fresh air, wearing a mask and washing our hands – is still hugely important.
Be optimistic. But be careful too.
Tips for going to the pub
The re-opening of indoor hospitality in Wales means that from Monday you can sit indoors for a pint at your local.
But the virus is still here, so we all need to take precautions to keep cases low.
Follow these guidelines:
- Book in advance wherever possible.
- Provide your details for contact tracing.
- Observe social distancing between tables.
- Stick to the ‘rule of six’ (six people from up to six different households can meet – no more).
- Observe any time-limits.
- Wait to be served at your table (only seated customers will be served).
Key dates and changes
Here’s a quick summary of key changes in Wales over the next few days.
Monday, May 17
- Indoor hospitality can reopen, with six people from up to six households able to meet in pubs, restaurants and cafes.
- All holiday accommodation can fully reopen.
- Entertainment and indoor visitor attractions can reopen – including cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, soft play centres, theatres, museums and galleries.
- Organised activities can take place for up to 30 people indoors, and up to 50 people outdoors.
International travel will also resume from Monday, but with extra safeguards in place for people returning from some countries.
However, Welsh Government continues to advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.
Changes to council services
Following changes to restrictions, a lot of public facilities have reopened in Wrexham in recent weeks…including libraries and leisure centres.
More facilities will reopen in the coming days…
The museum will reopen on Monday, May 17. This will include all the galleries, archives and the Courtyard Café – with both indoor and outdoor seating available.
Opening times will be 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, and 11am-4pm on Saturdays.
Tŷ Pawb galleries and food court
The galleries at Tŷ Pawb will reopen on Monday – as well as the indoor seating area in the food court.
This means you’ll once again be able to enjoy eat-in food and drink at the venue.
Wrexham Visitor Information Centre
The Visitor Information Centre on Chester Street (which replaced the old Tourist Information Centre on Lambpit Street) will open on Tuesday, May 18 as part of a phased approach.
To begin with, the focus will be on providing a public information desk, with the centre open 11am-2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (note you can email email@example.com outside of these hours).
Later this year – when restrictions have eased further – the centre will expand its activities to host events and showcase local produce and crafts.
Community resource centres
We’re taking a phased approach to opening our community resource centres at Plas Pentwyn (Coedpoeth), Acton, Brynteg, Gwersyllt and Llay.
Over the coming days, centre managers will be in touch with regular room-hire customers (e.g. local groups) to see if they’re ready to return, discuss Covid measures and to support them with any risk assessments that are needed.
Only bookings for small groups (up to 15 people indoors) will be allowed to begin with – larger bookings will be allowed at a later stage.
Over three quarters of adults in North Wales have now received at least one dose of vaccine.
It’s an amazing achievement – made possible by the efforts of people working in vaccination centres, GP surgeries and across the NHS.
The programme continues to roll out, with North Wales on course to offer vaccination to all adults by the end of July.
Changes to how different vaccine brands are used
Last week the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) changed its guidance on how different vaccine supplies are used.
It stated that where possible, an alternative to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine should be offered to people aged 30 to 39.
This is a precautionary measure because of an extremely small risk of blood clots occurring in this age group.
As a result, those aged 18-39 will now receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those aged over 40 will receive the Oxford AstraZeneca product.
If you’ve already had a first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, please be reassured that it’s safe to receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of your age.
This is in line with JCVI advice, although medical exemptions may apply to a very small minority.
Please attend your appointment
We’re continuing to see a high number of people failing to attend appointments.
Vaccines are never thrown away, because the local health board can call people in at short notice.
But each missed appointment wastes vital resources and creates logistical challenges for NHS staff.
Most of these ‘no shows’ are because people have failed to get in touch to say they can’t attend, or don’t want to be vaccinated.
If you can’t attend or don’t want to be vaccinated, let the NHS know.
You can read more about the vaccination programme in North Wales on the local NHS health board website.
How to dispose of lateral flow tests
If you’re using ‘lateral flow’ testing kits at home, it’s important to dispose of them properly after use.
If the test is negative, place it in a bag, tie it up and pop it in your general waste bin.
If the test is positive, double bag it – making sure the bags are secured (tied and sealed) – and keep it for 72 hours before putting it in your general waste bin.
Please don’t put test kits in any of your recycling containers after use.
Have symptoms or identified as a ‘contact’?
If you have coronavirus symptoms – or you’re identified as a ‘contact’ by the Track, Trace and Protect service – please make sure you self-isolate and get a ‘PCR’ test.
It could be the most important thing you ever do.
Useful sources of information
- Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board website – vaccination updates (North Wales)
- Welsh Government website – FAQs about current restrictions in Wales
- Public Health Wales website – regular statements