Some Covid restrictions are being lifted more slowly coming out of the second wave than the first.
Wales has been hit by two significant waves of coronavirus so far and each has required months of severe lockdown restrictions to get us through.
After a lockdown comes the long task of lifting the restrictions which is a really tricky job to get right. Lift too quickly and there can be a resurgence in the virus – lift too slowly and you risk harming the economy and taking away people’s livelihoods unnecessarily.
We have gone through the two waves to compare how long into each lockdown certain restrictions were lifted.
For the first lockdown we have taken a start date of March 23, 2020. For the second we are using December 19, 2020. It is important to note that for the December 19 date there had already been several such measures in place at the time, such as the restrictions the hospitality sector was operating under and the early closure of schools, while there was also a one-day break on Christmas Day where household mixing was allowed.
We are now 101 days into the second lockdown which is the equivalent to July 2 in the first one. It took until July 6 for a day with no Covid deaths in Wales whereas so far in the second wave we have had several days already with no deaths. This reflects both the impact of the vaccine but also how much ICU physicians have learnt about treating Covid patients.
Meeting people outside
We were able to arrange to meet people from outside our household in Wales earlier in the second wave.
From February 19 four people from two households could meet for exercise in Wales. This was 62 days after the start of the second-wave lockdown. This is over a week earlier than in the first wave when it was not until 70 days after lockdown, on June 1, that people could see friends or family members in a park for the first time.
The five-mile rule
Unlike meeting people outdoors the five-mile rule came in far later in the second lockdown compared to the first.
The first lockdown saw the introduction of stay local rules on June 1 – a total of 70 days after the initial lockdown. By contrast in the second wave it took 84 days for “stay home” rules to end on March 13. However in the second wave these ‘stay local’ measures were only in place for two weeks whereas in the first wave it was that way for more than a month.
Going to the pub or restaurant
Really craving a pint right now?
Well you will probably have to wait longer to sit in a beer garden in this lockdown than the first.
Pubs opened outdoors in Wales on July 13 in the first lockdown – 112 days after March 23.
By contrast now the Welsh Government doesn’t plan to even consider re-opening beer gardens until at least the April 22 review and the wait could be until May 13. This means that there could be anywhere between 124 and 145 days with hospitality closed.
It is a similar story indoors. Pubs opened indoors in the first wave on August 3 which was 21 days after they were able to open outdoors. If the Welsh Government follows the same policy again we could be looking at a wait of 166 days between the day we went into lockdown and the day indoor hospitality re-opens.
This has opened quicker in the second wave than the first.
Self-contained accommodation like caravans opened in Wales on March 27 during this wave – 98 days after the alert level four lockdown came in. Last time it wasn’t until after 110 days on July 11.
This is a much trickier one to do accurately.
All kids were not back in school in Wales until September in the first wave – more than 160 days – but there were a few check-in days for some students before then.
This time the Welsh Government aimed to open them within a month of the lockdown but shelved those plans because cases rates were so high.
Though most young people have returned to school now it won’t be until years seven, eight, and nine go back on April 12 that they all return to school. This will be 114 days since the lockdown but the actual period without all children in the classroom is longer still as schools closed early for Christmas.
Cinemas and theatres
Cinemas opened in the first wave after 126 days on July 27. This time around there is no fixed date but it seems likely that it will be after May 13 meaning at a minimum it will be 145 days.
Theatres are a different story as they never even opened in the first wave. The recent Coronavirus Control Plan from the Welsh Government suggests they will open this time around at the same time as cinemas but will be subject to restrictions on numbers.