The Welsh Government’s pandemic exit plan

(Title Image: Welsh Government via Twitter, Crown Copyright)

Towards the end of last week, the First Minister published Wales’ coronavirus pandemic “exit plan”, which sets out the specific way in which lockdown restrictions will be eased (pdf).

It follows the recent publication of the “track and trace” strategy.

The exit plan doesn’t give any timetable or dates as to when restrictions will be eased. The next review is set to take place w/c 1st June 2020. The message is that it’ll happen if and when it’s deemed safe to do so to prevent the rate of infection (R-number) increasing to such an extent that it overwhelms the NHS.

A traffic light system has been developed to “ration” the amount of social contact the public will have as restrictions are eased.

  • Universities and colleges closed. Schools are closed to all except the children of key workers and children deemed to be vulnerable. Outreach services are put in place.
  • People should stay at home unless for essential travel and should only have contact with members of the household. People should only leave for outdoor exercise once a day close to home.
  • People should work from home if possible.
  • Places of worship close except for funerals and cremations.

  • Universities and colleges closed. Schools are closed to all except children of key workers and children deemed to be vulnerable though increased demand for places can be met.
  • People can see one person who isn’t a member of their household to provide support or care whilst maintaining social distancing.
  • Local travel is allowed, including for click-and-collect services and for outdoor recreation whilst maintaining social distancing. People can exercise outside for more than once a day.
  • Construction sites and other workplaces can open with appropriate social distancing.
  • Public services can gradually re-open where social distancing measures can be put in place.
  • Places of worship can open for private prayer under social distancing.

  • Priority groups of pupils can begin to return to school in phases and increased numbers of children can attend childcare (presumably this means a gradual reopening of universities and colleges too).
  • People can travel for leisure, shopping and work in larger numbers.
  • Team and non-contact sports and games in small groups can restart, though major spectator events would take place behind closed doors.
  • More cultural centres (i.e. museums) can open with social distancing measures; weddings can resume with limited numbers of guests.
  • Town centres should be adapted to maintain physical distancing as more non-essential retail and public services can resume (i.e. routine dentistry, elective surgery). Personal services which require an appointment (i.e. hairdressers) can trial reopening.
  • Places of worship reopen for more regular services, but congregations are limited to ensure social distancing.

  • Schools, colleges and universities fully reopen with precautions in place.
  • People can meet in small groups with physical distancing.
  • Travel is unrestricted subject to precautions.
  • Social, worship, sport, retail, leisure and cultural activities fully restart subject to precautions.
  • This is the point at which pubs and restaurants can reopen and also where they can be an unrestricted return to work (….subject to appropriate precautions).

As of 19th May 2020, Wales is still in Lockdown in some measures and Red in others.

The strategy says the aim is to move from “Red” to “Amber” and from “Amber” to “Green” in one go once the Welsh Government are confident the rate of infection is under control.

It’s fair to say this is a bit thin and lacks detail, but there’s always a careful balancing act between giving people too much information in one go (which might end up being confusing) and under-informing to the point people ask, “What’s the point?”

For example, while the report mentions universities and colleges it was as an asterisk, so I had to interpret it and add it in myself. There’s also nothing specific to the tourism industry, albeit with the mention that detailed guidance is being drafted.

It’s also unclear what “precautionary measures” means at the different traffic light levels, but it does seem there’s a quiet acceptance that physical/social distancing (keeping 2 metres from people) is going to become a fixture in daily life even after the lockdown is “lifted”.

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