If you live in England, Monday, June 15, signals the biggest single shift in the lockdown rules since Britain brought in new legislation to combat coronavirus at the end of March.

But in Wales, the First Minister has resisted calls to follow suit and said Wales must patiently wait for the current rules to change.

It means that what started out as a fairly uniform UK-wide lockdown has now become splintered over the last three months.

The new rules coming into force in England on Monday, which affect secondary schools, shopping, places of worship and some tourist attractions, won’t apply in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The English rules also change how people use public transport and how hospitals work. Plus, this weekend saw support bubbles introduced over the border- meaning people who live alone or single parents are allowed to form a “bubble” with one other household in England.

That means being able to visit someone else in their home and even stay overnight.

While Wales’ Economy Minister, Ken Skates, has laid out Wales’ timetable for shops, tourist businesses and other parts of the economy to open again, any change in the rules will be guided by the traffic light system, which sets out three key phases: red, amber and green. Wales is currently in the red phase.

The guidelines for determining what phase Wales is in is largely dependent on several variables, meaning there are no precise dates.

These are the key differences between England and Wales as we start week 14 of lockdown.

Meeting friends and family

In England, up to six people from different households can meet outdoors. In Wales, a maximum of two households can meet outdoors and there is no limit on how many people can meet.

From Saturday, June 13, people who live alone or single parents with dependent children can now form a ‘bubble’ and meet indoors with one other household in England.

They won’t need to follow the two-metre rule – meaning they can hug, kiss, share childcare and meals, hang out indoors, stay the night and even have sex for the first time since March 23.

In Wales, there are no such plans to create social bubbles and it is still not permitted to visit family and friends indoors.

Leaving the house

In England there are no restrictions on leaving home. Staying overnight anywhere other than where you are living is only permitted with ‘reasonable excuse’.

In Wales, while there is no restriction on leaving home, there is a limit on how far you can travel. The Welsh Government has stipulated that no person may leave the area local to their home, which it has deemed to be within a five-mile radius.

Non-essential shops

John Lewis Partnership has said it is preparing for a phased re-opening of its department stores this week

Non-essential shops will be allowed to re-open for the first time for almost three months in England. The types of shops allowed to reopen include:

Fashion shops

Charity shops

Betting shops and arcades

Tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers

Auction houses

Antique stores

Retail art galleries

Photography studios

Gift shops and retail spaces in theatres, museums, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites

Mobile phone stores

Craft fairs

Stores will need strict social-distancing measures, much like those we’ve already seen in supermarkets and other essential stores.

But in Wales, non-essential retail will only be permitted to open when the First Minister says we have entered the amber phase and only then, where adaptations are possible.

In England, outdoor markets and car showrooms have been open since June 1, whereas in Wales, they remain closed.

Hairdressers and beauty salons must remain closed in England until July 4 at the earliest, whereas in Wales, they cannot open until we have entered the amber phase.

Face coverings on public transport

Face masks are to become mandatory on public transport in England
(Image: PA)

Everyone travelling on public transport in England will be required to wear a face-covering from June 15.

Wearing a face covering – not a surgical mask – will be part of the conditions of carriage for travelling on public transport.

That means travellers could be refused permission to board buses or trains if they refuse to comply with the order. Serious offenders could be fined, but ministers have claimed people will largely comply and this won’t be needed.

No such conditions have been made in Wales, although people have been advised by the Welsh Government to wear non-medical face masks on public transport and in other places where social distancing is difficult.

Hospital visitors and staff will need to wear face coverings and masks

All hospital visitors and outpatients in England will be required to wear face coverings – while all hospital staff will have to wear higher-grade, type 1 or 2 surgical masks.

On Saturday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said medical grade masks should be reserved for use during the direct care of patients or residents in the health and social care sector.

Mr Gething said: “The Chief Medical Officer is clear also there is insufficient evidence to support the wearing of medical masks by workers in non-clinical settings. It remains of paramount importance that health and social care staff observe social distancing in all situations, while adhering to good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

“In Wales, health and social care organisations are under a legal duty to ensure that social distancing is possible. Clearly, should there be exceptional circumstances in which social distancing is impossible, then staff must be able to wear a medical mask should they wish to.”

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas start to re-open

Folly Farm, like othere Welsh animal attractions, is closed due to lockdown
(Image: WalesOnline/John Myers)

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are set to re-open in England from Monday. Boris Johnson has said they can reopen as long as they follow social distancing rules.

That means their on-site cafes and restaurants are expected to operate as take-away only. Only outdoor attractions are allowed to reopen, so reptile houses and indoor aquariums will remain closed.

Sites will be operating at reduced capacity, and there may be one-way systems in place.

Cinemas, theatres and other leisure activities will open in England on July 4 at the very earliest.

“We will stick to the path we have chosen”:

During Wednesday’s Welsh Government briefing, Economy Minister Ken Skates said there was no set date for when zoos in Wales could open again, but he hoped it would be “sooner rather than later”.

Speaking about the UK Government’s U-turn decision to re-open zoos, Mr Skates said Wales has “never legislated to keep zoos closed”. He said they had not been stopped from re-opening in Wales, but the biggest challenge would be “attracting people through the gates”.

He said attractions only got one shot at re-opening and if they were not financially viable on their re-opening, it would be very difficult to hibernate again. Attractions like Folly Farm said the current restrictions on travel made re-opening un-viable.

Cinemas, theatres and other leisure activities will open in Wales only when the country enters the green phase.

Places of worship reopen for private prayer

Places of worship re-open in England from June 15, but only for private prayer and not for services.

Individuals are expected to be able to “reflect and pray” while adhering to social-distancing rules – but worship groups, weddings and other services will still not be permitted.

In line with government guidance, churches will be expected to be deep-cleaned regularly and should remove shared books from public areas.

In Wales, places of worship will only be re-opened in the “red phase” for private prayer. This will be extended to a wider range of limited services when we reach the amber phase.

Weddings and funerals

Weddings remain off limits for anyone living in England, while funerals can go ahead with just members of the deceased person’s household and close family members. If neither of these can attend, then a friend may take their place.

In Wales, people are permitted to attend weddings only where one partner is terminally ill. People can leave home to attend a funeral if they are organising it or are invited to attend.

School pupils in years 10 and 12 return a quarter at a time

Secondary schools in England can re-open for years 10 and 12 from June 15, but not all students will be allowed to return at the same time.

Only a quarter of eligible pupils will be allowed in school at any one time – meaning schools have had to instigate special timetables and classes to make the system work. Secondary schools are not likely to fully re-open until September at the earliest.

Schools in Wales during coronavirus

The teaching of vulnerable children and those of critical workers in all year groups will continue until the start of the summer holidays.

Nurseries and early years providers, including childminding, re-opened to all children from June 1 but the Government has dropped plans for all primary school years to return before September.

In Wales, all nurseries and early years providers remain closed, while all year groups will be allowed to return to school from June 29, but only then, at a reduced capacity. Only a third of pupils will be allowed back at any one time.

Public amenities

Libraries in Wales have been re-opened since June 1, while in England, they will not open until July 4 at the earliest.

Playing and watching sports

Indoor sports facilities remain closed for both England and Wales. However, outdoor sports have been permitted in England for small groups since May 10. In Wales, outdoor sports courts are yet to be re-opened.

Elite athletes were allowed to resume training in England on June 1, whereas in Wales, only some activity is allowed to resume.

While live sport in England has been allowed to take place ‘behind closed doors’ since June 1, Wales is still waiting to enter the amber phase before it gives live sport the green light.

Pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities

Wales restaurants in lockdown

Restaurants are still closed in Wales
(Image: WalesOnline/Gayle Marsh)

Wales has stated that cafes, pubs and restaurants must remain closed until the country has entered the green phase. Museums and galleries will be able to open earlier, when the country enters the amber phase.

In England, these places will have to wait until step three, or July 4 at the earliest, before they can welcome people back.


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