FIRST MINISTER Mark Drakeford has announced Wales’ ‘Stay at Home’ rule could be removed after the next review of lockdown restrictions, but did not given any details on what position Wales would have to be in for this to be repealed.

Mr Drakeford said at today’s press conference that the Welsh Government was prioritising getting older pupils back into school and college for blended learning from the next review – the results of which will be announced March 12.

“If we can lift the stay at home requirement in three weeks time, then we will also look to see whether we can begin to reopen some non-essential retail and close contact services - such as hairdressing,” he said.

However, when asked what position Wales would need to be in for that to happen, Mr Drakeford said it would not be a case of reaching certain figures – such as for case rates, hospital admissions or the R number.

“The important thing is to say is that the judgement will not just be a mechanical one,” he said. “It won’t be driven simply by if a number is this, the action will be that.

“What we will do is to take a judgement in the round informed by the advice of our senior clinicians and scientific advisors.

“So we will look at all the things that we become familiar with - the number of people per 100,000, that that is continuing to decline; the positivity rates are declining; that the R number remains below 1; and that the impact of coronavirus in all hospitals is continuing to reduce - but we will then look at all of that as a package, take advice from those who are responsible for our health service and who model for us the way coronavirus is spreading in Wales and when we take all of that together the cabinet will make a judgement on what is possible in three weeks time.”

Mr Drakeford confirmed foundation phase (infants) pupils will return to school next week.

He added there would be - from tomorrow - some "very modest" relaxations to the rules.

From tomorrow:

  • Up to four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors for exercise.
  • Athletes will be allowed to return to training.
  • Licensed wedding venues will be allowed to open, under strict rules, next week for wedding and civil partnerships.
  • There will also be more scope for visits at care homes from next week.

The first minister was also asked about the future of the hospitality sector.

He said the sector is "not likely to see a reopening at either of the next two reviews."

He also went back on comments Eluned Morgan, minister for mental health and wellbeing, made about the reopening of gyms. Mr Drakeford pointed to advice from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) as to why gyms would no longer be among the first to reopen

"Their [TAG's] advice is that the Kent variant may make gyms particularly vulnerable to being places where the virus is spread," he said.

"I don't anticipate seeing gyms open in the next three weeks, but the evidence will accumulate over the next period."