In a week’s time the Welsh Government will be announcing the results of its latest review on lockdown restrictions.

The hope is that more easing of rules surrounding the coronavirus pandemic will follow but at this stage it appears that any changes announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford will be minor and gradual.

Changes that have been mooted in the last few weeks and could come into force on Friday include the Welsh Government allowing all primary school pupils and some older students in secondary school and college back to face to face learning.

There could also be announcements regarding restrictions on non-essential retail and close contact services such as hairdressers and tattoo artists.

But perhaps the biggest lifting of restrictions could be the end of the ban on all but essential travel with the stay at home rule changed to “stay local”.

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Speaking on BBC Radio Wales on Sunday, Mr Drakeford said: “I said two weeks ago at the last review that I hoped this will be the last .three weeks of the stay at home regulation.

“So, that is what we will be trying to make happen on Friday of this week.

“We will be looking carefully at whether an intermediate period of stay local – people are used to that, we had a period of that last year in Wales – would be a first step on a journey.”

He added: “In Wales, that is how we are trying to approach the whole business – carefully, cautiously, step by step, not doing too many things at once – so that we can monitor the impact of changes, and then restore more freedoms to people and to the economy once we are confident it’s safe to do so.”

Since December everyone in Wales has been told that they can only go outside their home if they have a reasonable excuse, like work, buying essentials or exercise. And while exercise has been permitted, driving to do so is not.

Speaking at a Welsh Government press briefing on Friday, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said rules requiring people to stay in their local areas were being considered.

He said: “We have said we may be able to lift stay at home. We are considering what that then means. We are thinking about whether there will be a stay local period or whether there should be travel permitted across the whole of Wales. That is a choice that the government needs to make and we haven’t concluded that.

“But there are, I think, very easy to understand arguments about why we would want to have a period of ‘stay local’ before moving to wider travel and it is important to remember that at this point in time the restrictions in England mean that people shouldn’t be travelling from England into Wales. We know that the reality of essential travel for work is one thing but there shouldn’t be travel for leisure at this point in time.”

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford speaks during a coronavirus press conference
(Image: Getty Images)

The Welsh Government’s last review of lockdown restrictions on February 19 saw only minor changes to the rules.

On Monday, February 22, the youngest pupils returned to the classroom, with children in the Foundation Phase years, aged three to seven, back in school.

Four people from two different households were allowed to meet outdoors for socially distanced exercise.

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Licensed wedding venues were allowed to re-open, but only to perform wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. Arrangements were also made for athletes to resume training and guidance on care home visiting was also looked at.

The figures from Public Health Wales published on Sunday, March 7, reveal that 152 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the latest 24-hour period, a drop from 195 reported on Saturday. This brings the total since the start of the pandemic to 204,886.

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in Wales within a month of a positive test now stands at 5,403.

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