Up to 30 can meet outdoors in Wales from Monday

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Groups of up to 30 people will be able to meet outdoors in places like Cardiff Castle from Monday

The rules on how many people can meet outdoors in Wales will be eased next week, the Welsh Government has announced.

Since early June outdoor meetings have been restricted to just two households.

But from Monday groups of up to 30 can meet, and it will not matter how many households they are from.

It is one of a package of measures in First Minister Mark Drakeford’s latest review of Wales’ coronavirus restrictions, to be announced later.

Children under 11 will no longer have to maintain a 2m distance from each other or from adults from Monday, because of lower rates of transmission in their age group.

Indoor bowling alleys, auction houses and bingo halls will be able to resume trading the same day, alongside indoor pubs, restaurants and cafes.

The Welsh Government warned businesses faced “action” if they ignored social distancing measures “designed to keep Wales safe”.

An announcement for gyms is also expected – the first minister has said he would be “very keen” to see them reopen.

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Scientific advice says coronavirus is likely to decay quickly in sunlight

When lockdown was imposed in March any gathering of more than two people became illegal.

In June that was eased, and people from two different households were allowed to meet outside.

Ministers have been more relaxed about activities outside after scientific advice said the virus was likely to decay quickly when exposed to sunlight.

The Welsh Government has been slower than other parts of the UK in lifting restrictions, and Welsh Labour ministers have emphasised a cautious approach.

But as coronavirus cases fell some of the most severe lockdown rules – including the travel ban and the enforced closure of non-essential shops – were removed.

At the same time measures such as contact tracing have been stepped up, with the hope that more testing will allow outbreaks to be isolated and stopped in their tracks.

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Children under the age of 11 will not need to socially distance

Mr Drakeford said on Thursday that he hoped spikes would be dealt with “on a local basis” rather than returning to the national restrictions imposed in March.

The Welsh Conservatives called earlier in the week for people to be able to meet in larger groups, for theatres and bingo halls to be reopened and for indoor weddings to be permitted.

The party’s Darren Millar said freedoms “have or are being safely restored in other parts of the UK and people in Wales should be able to enjoy them too”.

Plaid Cymru said any easing of restrictions needed to be accompanied by a “robust mechanism to stamp out coronavirus outbreaks”.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said recent turnaround times for tests did not fill him with “confidence that Welsh Government will be able to quickly react to new outbreaks”.

The coronavirus lockdown in Wales is controlled by the Welsh Government, while the UK government in London has been dealing with the equivalent rules in England.

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