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Coronavirus: Lockdown remains in Wales but exercise rules eased

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Wales has had strict restrictions on exercise during lockdown
People will be able to exercise outside more than once a day in Wales, with some garden centres set to reopen, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.Councils can plan to reopen libraries and tips, but Mr Drakeford warned it was "too soon" to make other changes.The rest of the coronavirus stay-at-home restrictions will be extended for another three weeks.It comes 48 hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces possible changes to the rules in England.The changes to the seven-week-old lockdown come into force across Wales from Monday.
Mr Drakeford warned anyone thinking of travelling to beaches or mountains that they will be stopped and sent home.
Welsh schools not reopening on 1 June
'Real focus' urged on transmission rate
What Covid-19 decisions are made in Wales"All of us must continue to work from home wherever they can. All of us must only travel when absolutely necessary."Despite reports of tensions between the different governments, Mr Drakeford said he wanted to "move in step with the other nations of the United Kingdom".He said just a small increase in the rate of transmission of the coronavirus - the so-called 'R' number - would mean thousands more in hospital and as many as 7,200 deaths.So far at least 1,285 deaths involving Covid-19 have been registered in Wales, as of 24 April, according to the Office for National Statistics.The next review of regulations in Wales will be in three weeks' time. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already announced extensions to lockdown rules there.
Mark Drakeford shared this graph showing estimates of how hospital admissions could increase if the transmission rate rose
Mr Drakeford said as a result of the three-week review, the Welsh Government believed small changes to the regulations could be made.From Monday people will be allowed to exercise more than once a day, but not to travel "a significant distance" from home.Garden centres will be allowed to re-open, provided they can ensure the two metre social distancing rule is followed. And councils will begin to work on plans to re-open libraries and waste centres.The 120,000 people in the most at-risk groups, who have received official "shielding" letters, should continue to follow that advice.
Mr Drakeford said the R number currently sits at around 0.8 in Wales. Welsh Government estimates suggest that, at that level, 800 may die from coronavirus between 8 May and 7 August.But he warned that if this rose to just 1.1, "we would see 7,200".Speaking at a press conference, Mr Drakeford warned anyone thinking of travelling to beaches or beauty spots in Wales: "The police are ready and will stop people and people will be sent home.""It is not the right thing to do, it risks all the achievements that we have made together," he said. "Don't do it."
Will the prime minster's announcement be similar?
The first minister said he believed Mr Johnson's lockdown announcement for England on Sunday will be "broadly" similar to Wales'.Mr Drakeford said announcing changes in Wales ahead of the prime minister's public address was "not an attempt to place any restraints" on Downing Street.He said talks between the Welsh and UK government over coronavirus have taken place "in fits and starts".
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On announcements made by the Welsh Government, the PM's spokesman stressed any "easement that we do make will be very limited".Number 10 added that Boris Johnson had had constructive talks with devolved leaders on Thursday.
Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs Editor
What this was was an attempt to row back from the sort of news stories - and these haven't come from Wales, they've come from Westminster - that there was going to be a major relaxation of the lockdown rules.Yes there are some changes, like being allowed to exercise outside more the once a day, but the new message we heard there was as well as stay at home, stay safe and stay local.Mark Drakeford denied this was an attempt to put pressure on Boris Johnson, but he knows perfectly well, and Nicola Sturgeon knows perfectly well, that this does put pressure on Boris Johnson.Because these are governments saying, if you relax too far thousands of people will die; in England that equates to tens of thousands of people.
Mark Drakeford will deliver a first ministerial statement on BBC One Wales at 17:55 BST on Friday.
Coronavirus lockdown measures
Coronavirus pandemic
Welsh government
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