Wales unlocks: Six people from different households can meet inside pubs and restaurants from May 17 in latest easing of Covid rules
- First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the rules would be eased from Monday
- This means people from six different households can meet inside bars and pub
- Government also announced further financial support for affected businesses
Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be able to serve people indoors from next Monday as the country’s coronavirus cases continue to drop.
The Welsh Government confirmed up to six people from six different households will be able to meet in indoor regulated settings, such as cafes and pubs, when they open from May 17.
First Minister Mark Drakeford had previously said it was likely businesses would be allowed to serve groups of up to six inside but that it would be up to whomever was elected on May 6 to confirm the relaxation.
Labour took control of the Senedd again, and Mr Drakeford has now confirmed the rule change will happen on Monday.
Mr Drakeford also announced further financial support packages for businesses still affected by the pandemic.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed the rules would be eased from Monday which means groups of six from different households can meet indoors at pubs, restaurants and bars
The latest support package will help those businesses, which remain affected by restrictions, to meet ongoing costs through to the end of June as they prepare for re-opening and more normal trading conditions.
This includes nightclubs and late entertainment venues and supply chain business, which have been materially impacted by restrictions.
Businesses will be able submit applications by the end of the month and they will receive between £2,500 and £25,000 depending on their circumstances.
Funding will be calculated based on the size of the business and the type of restrictions they are under.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘The public health situation continues to improve in Wales – we have the lowest coronavirus rates and the best vaccination rates in the UK.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also announced additional funding for businesses that continue to be affected by closures
‘We know the restrictions have helped to keep us all safe but they have had a big impact on Welsh businesses, which is why we are making more funding available to support firms and safeguard jobs.
‘Eligible businesses will receive support of up to £25k as they prepare to reopen and move towards more normal trading conditions.
‘My new government will provide more detail about the extra financial support we will be providing to businesses to help them develop and grow as Wales recovers from the impact of the pandemic.
‘As we continue to relax the restrictions, I can confirm that from Monday, up to six people from six different households will be able to meet indoors in regulated settings, such as cafes and pubs.’
Prior to the announcement, the Welsh Government had faced pressure to outline incoming restrictions as soon as possible so that businesses can prepare themselves.
In an open letter published last week, the Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC), which represents 400 venues across Wales, said the lack of clarity had cost businesses because they were unsure what restrictions would be in place for customers booking for the future.
The letter read: ‘If we can’t trade close to normally, then financial support is needed to fill at least some of that gap.
‘Even when we have been able to open indoors the average business has only been able to achieve roughly 50 per cent of normal turnover due to the 2m rule and restriction on tables sizes and composition.’
Since the announcement, the WIRC has said: ‘We welcome this parity between indoor and outdoor rules, and are pleased that Welsh Ministers have listened to our calls for simplicity.
‘We will continue to work with government to implement these new rules. We also welcome the indication of further funding support and look forward to hearing the details of this in the days to come – it is clear funding is needed right now by many businesses to enable them to survive.’
The Government says an eligibility checker will open on the Business Wales website at midday on May 17 so businesses can find out how much support they are likely to be entitled to and how to apply.
The relaxation is the latest announcement from the Welsh government on the country’s route out of lockdown.
Gyms, swimming pools and community centres have already reopened while cinemas, theatres and museums are also due to reopen from May 17, though with strict social-distancing rules still in place.
Meanwhile in England, groups of up to six people or two households in England will be allowed to eat and drink indoors from Monday, with curbs to be eased completely on June 21.
However, pub and hospitality bosses have warned that until then, firms whose trade has been decimated by the pandemic will continue to lose money even when they reopen indoors on May 17.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night confirmed pubs and restaurants can reopen indoor areas from next week as virus cases tumble, but refused to speed up the roadmap to the astonishment of the hospitality sector.
According to the real estate adviser Altus Group, 99,045 indoor hospitality premises in England will be able to reopen on May 17.
Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: ‘It’s great that from next Monday we’ll be able to welcome our customers back inside our pubs and get more of our team members back to work.
‘Since we reopened outdoors in some of our pubs in April, frequent spells of cold and wet weather have made it particularly trying for our teams who are serving our customers outside.
‘Even though the vast majority of our of our pubs will be open next week, we’ll still be operating at significantly reduced capacity, so it’s essential all restrictions disappear as promised on June 21 so we can return to the full pub experience that people have missed so much.’
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