Coronavirus in Wales: Pubs and restaurants reopen indoors – BBC News

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Groups of up to 30 people will be able to meet while social distancing outdoors from Monday

People have spoken of their excitement and anxiety about socialising again, as lockdown rules are further relaxed in Wales on Monday.

Groups of up to 30 people can now meet outdoors and many young children will be able to play with their friends for the first time since lockdown began.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will also be able to serve people indoors.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted to allow people to enjoy socialising “while they can”.

He said new coronavirus restrictions in the north west of England had given him “pause for thought” before announcing changes to daily life in Wales.

Bingo halls and bowling alleys will also reopen on Monday.

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Media captionA “scrumptious” socially-distant drink

While people have been able to enjoy a pint and a meal outside since 13 July, many pubs will open for the first time on Monday since the start of lockdown.

With some not having a beer garden, and less people able to be served due to social distancing measures, many – including major chains like Brains and Wetherspoons – had remained closed.

If your local pub does reopen on Monday, a trip to there will be very different with tables far apart, limited numbers allowed inside at once, and many using apps to order drinks.

‘Groups able to meet again’

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At the start of lockdown it was illegal for people from outside a household to meet up.

But since rules were eased in June, people from two different households at a time have been able to meet outside.

Now groups of up to 30, from different households, are able to meet outside as long as they keep two metres apart, meaning many large families and friendship groups will be able to socialise at once.

Children under the age of 11 will not have to socially-distance from other children and adults, after Mr Drakeford said they were now exempt from social distancing rules as they had lower rates of transmission.

‘They’ve been climbing the walls’

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Natasha said while she had been able to use the garden and go on walks, lockdown had been hard with two young children

Before lockdown Natasha, from Newport, went out with her children most days, going to classes, play dates or taking them to nursery.

She said during the first weeks of lockdown it had been a “shock” and her children, age one and three, were looking forward to seeing friends again.

“If someone is shielding I wouldn’t visit them with my children as I can’t guarantee they will keep a safe distance,” she said.

“For everyone else I don’t see an issue with meeting up from Monday and welcome the new rules allowing children to mingle.”

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Natasha said it was important for her children to be able to play with others

Natasha, who teaches French and Spanish to children in Cardiff and Newport, said she hoped to resume some small outdoor classes soon so that parents and children could meet and learn face-to-face.

“I think it’s really important that parents and children are able to socialise in person, get to groups and have some sort of normality,” she said.

‘It’s too soon’

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Charlotte says she would love to socialise with Sebastian but it was “not the right time”

Student nurse Charlotte, from Cardiff, said she was not sure going to meet groups of friends with her one-year-old-son Sebastian was “right yet”.

While the mum has been seeing family in her garden, she said not being able to see friends had been “quite isolating”.

“I know they are taking the social distancing away for children, but not for the adults, so it’s very difficult for the adults to stay apart while the children are next to each other, running away,” she said.

“I can’t take my eyes off him for one second and if he runs somewhere else, then I may be in contact with another adult, and its unavoidable.

“I think it needs a couple more weeks, I think with pubs reopening we need to see how that impacts the numbers, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

‘The pub has been absolutely manic’

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Hayley Lewis

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Hayley Lewis has used money saved for her daughter’s postponed wedding to renovate her pub’s beer garden

Pub landlord Hayley Lewis’ daughter had just finished trying on her wedding dress when lockdown was announced back in March.

Hours later the wedding was cancelled, and her pub was closed until further notice.

The grandmother decided to use the cash saved for the wedding to renovate her pub’s beer garden and keep busy.

Ms Lewis said when she opened the beer garden at the Wern Inn in Plasmarl, Swansea, on 13 July, people queued from 09:30 BST in the pouring rain to get in.

She said it had been “absolutely manic” every day, and she’d had to turn people away due to social-distancing rules.

“We’ve done everything possible to make people feel safe, and still have a good time,” she said.

Ms Lewis said she was concerned about reopening indoors, but with barriers, socially-distanced tables, and limited numbers indoors, she had done everything she could.

“It’s very difficult, but people are so glad to go out because they’ve been stuck in for nearly four months now and they’re just glad to see friends and have a chat,” she said.

‘When can we sing together again?’

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The Sound Women Choir, pictured before lockdown, have not met in person since March

For months now members of choirs and bands across Wales have been practising online, via Zoom calls.

But while groups of up to 30 can meet up from Monday, there is no official guidance on whether musical groups should get together to practise again.

There are fears that due to the way the virus is thought to be spread, singers and musicians, such as those in brass bands, could be at risk.

Members of Penarth-based Sound Women Choir have sung together for years and musical director Tracey Gummow said not being able to physically sing together had been heart-breaking.

“We have been together for so long, it’s almost as bad as not being able to see your family, for those who don’t have kids around,” she said.

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Media captionMany have taken part in virtual practices and sing-a-longs during lockdown, but when will choirs meet again?

Ms Gummow said the Welsh Government needed to issue “clear guidance” to community musical groups as, for some people, going to choir or band practice was the only time they saw other people.

“It’s Wales’ tradition, we are supposed to be a nation of song, and we are not able to get together and sing. How can we not be doing it? Why is this virus keeping us from singing?” she said.

The Cory Brass Band, ranked number one in the world, are currently preparing for an online championship, but said they had no plans to resume face-to-face rehearsals and were waiting for guidance.

The Welsh Government said while there was nothing illegal about people singing or playing instruments outdoors, it would not advise it, due to it being a high-risk activity.

Mr Drakeford urged people to continue to abide by social-distancing rules when going to the pub and meeting in groups.

“If we stop now, there is a real risk we will see new outbreaks of coronavirus and we may have to reverse some of these restrictions to control its spread again,” he said.

“We are facing the likelihood of a resurgence of the virus over the autumn and winter – this will not be over by Christmas.

“We all have an ongoing responsibility to keep Wales safe.”

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