Brits could have holidays in Wales as soon as Easter as Covid cases fall


Wales could reopen to people taking holidays in time for Easter if cases continue to fall, the country’s First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government is speaking to tourism and hospitality industries about “what might be possible”.

But he warned any reopening would depend on infection rates, the stress on the health service and the success of a vaccine.

Figures released by Public Health Wales show the incidence rate of coronavirus in the country, which was above 650 cases per 100,000 people before Christmas, has dropped to 102 cases per 100,000 people.

The test positivity rate – another key marker – has also fallen to 8.7%, while the number of people in hospital is also beginning to reduce.



Holidays within the UK could slowly look more likely as the months unfold
Holidays within the UK could slowly look more likely as the months unfold

Mr Drakeford said: “If that is the path that we are on, then a pattern in Wales as we move towards the spring and Easter will be one in which we will be able to slowly and cautiously lift the restrictions that are currently in place.

“That will include the tourism industry and it’ll include those aspects of family life which are denied to us all at the moment, but that is a path that depends upon continued success.

“We’ve learnt so often over the last 12 months that coronavirus continues to have very unpleasant surprises up its sleeve. We’re by no means guaranteed to have a smooth passage into the future.”

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It comes after Wales hit its target of offering vaccines to all people in top four priority groups by the middle of the month.

The other nations of the UK are expected to cross the threshold before Monday’s deadline.



Mark Drakeford said he was looking at what could be done
Mark Drakeford said he was looking at what could be done

The Welsh Labour leader said: “To have achieved this first milestone and offered vaccination to everyone in the first four priority groups – those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus – is a truly phenomenal effort.

“I want to thank everyone who has been working around the clock to reach this point.”

Patients who have been offered and accepted jabs but are yet to receive them will be inoculated over the weekend, he added.

Mr Drakeford told the BBC: “There are 740,000 people in Wales in those four groups, 689,000 of them had already been vaccinated by the end of Wednesday.

“We expect, when we have yesterday’s figure, to go well past the 700,000 barrier today.

“We know that all of those who are yet to be vaccinated will have had invitations to come in by the end of today or at the very latest over the weekend.”

Lockdown measures in Wales, which have been in place since December 20, are formally reviewed every three weeks. The next review will take place by February 19.

Under the restrictions, all non-essential shops, hospitality businesses, visitor attractions, events and holiday accommodation are closed.

Mr Drakeford said any opening of the tourism industry would have to be careful, cautious and reflect the public health context at the time.

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When asked what he would say to people booking a holiday in Wales, Mr Drakeford replied: “They should do it knowing the uncertain world we are living in. There are no guarantees in this.

“When we reopened tourism last year, we didn’t go from nothing to everything in one go.

“Our first steps were to reopen self-contained accommodation, where people had all their own facilities and that self-contained accommodation was occupied by people in your own family group.

“I hear everything that the tourism industry says to us in Wales and want to recognise how important the Easter period is to them.

“I’m trying to give an indication today that if everything continues to improve, we will do what we can to respond to their wish to be able to resume trading again over the Easter period.”

Mr Drakeford said he would not predict what life would be like in Wales in years to come as it was “difficult enough” to do so for the next three weeks.

“What I would like us to be able to get back to in Wales, and more quickly than we were able to last year, is the way things were last summer,” he told the press conference.

“Last summer, we were still social distancing, we were still being asked to wear masks on public transport and in crowded places but we were able to travel, restaurants were open, people could go on holiday.

“Coronavirus is going to be with us for months to come. Even when it is in the rearview mirror, we will need to go on being careful about the way we live our lives.”

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