Outdoor hospitality has been allowed in England since the 12th April. However, other nations within the United Kingdom have taken longer to ease restrictions. Wales was relatively quick to end the ‘Stay at home’ governmental message, with non-essential travel being allowed from the 13th March 2020. Despite this, they have been more gradual to unlock any further.
On Monday evening, the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced that that was soon to change, stating that “The public health context in Wales remains favourable, with cases falling and our vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength. Because meeting outdoors continues to be lower risk than meeting indoors, we are able to bring forward changes to allow any six people to meet outdoors.”
This means that non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate from the 26th April. This is fantastic news for businesses across Wales that can now prepare to open their doors to the public again. The ability to begin trading again will provide a much-needed boost to the economy in Wales.
Drakeford’s announcement has been much anticipated, and the First Minister has come under scrutiny for not unlocking the Welsh economy sooner. Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has called for indoor hospitality to reopen in line with restrictions easing in England. Price has said, “The hospitality sector has suffered more than most since the beginning of the pandemic and has shown unbelievable resilience despite repeated periods of opening and reopening. Giving clarity would allow businesses time to plan for reopening and make their premises Covid compliant so that customers can once again enjoy Wales’s excellent hospitality sector with full confidence.”
These sentiments have been echoed by Rowland Rees-Evans, the chairman of MWT Cymru, “We are now at the stage where the data has overtaken the dates, so why can’t we reopen faster? If we don’t reopen the industry in line with England, Wales is going to lose out again and people are going to book holidays and short breaks in other parts of the UK.”
There is definitely an atmosphere of restlessness taking over the Welsh political landscape. We will see over the coming weeks how the situation develops; and crucially, how that affects the leisure and hospitality industries within the Welsh border.
Words by Rebecca Clayton