Wales starts lockdown easing Saturday, extra £150m for shops staying closed
Wales will become the first country in the UK to ease some lockdown restrictions from Saturday (13 March), although non-essential retailers will have to wait until 12 April to reopen, the same as in England.
However, there was good news for those retailers still having to wait a month to reopen. The First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, announced Friday afternoon that the devolved government will make an extra £150 million available immediately to those businesses still unable to reopen.
They will be eligible for payments of between £4,000 and £5,000 “to help meet operating costs while they remain closed”.
But the latest announcement on the easing of restrictions is good news for hairdressing salons and barbers, which will be allowed to reopen from Monday (15 March), by appointment only.
From 22 March, some of the restrictions imposed on non-essential goods in retailers such as supermarkets, which have been allowed to trade throughout the lockdowns, will be lifted as part of a programme to “gradually" return retail to normality.
All stores, including all close-contact services, will be able to open from 12 April.
Although the extra products retailers such as supermarkets will now be able to sell are unclear, it will not please many competing retailers that are still unable to trade, as it will give their competitors what they will regard as an unfair advantage.
The First Minister also announced that from Saturday (13 March), a "stay local" rule will replace the "stay at home" message, meaning people are able to travel further afield. It will also open up some tourism facilities.
Drakeford said: “We are taking a phased approach to unlocking each sector. We will make step-by-step changes each week to gradually restore freedoms. We will monitor each change we make so we know what impact each change has had on Wales’ public health situation”.
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