Pubs and restaurants were not mentioned in the latest review of restrictions on lockdown regulations in Wales.
First Minister Mark Drakeford gave dates for when he hopes to see more pupils return to schools and the gradual reopening of non-essential businesses and hairdressers, as well as the lifting of the stay at home rule. But no date has yet been given as to when the hospitality trade will be able to start planning to open their doors again.
But asked by reporters about what the hospitality industry could expect, he warned that the re-opening of pubs and restaurants would not be included in the next two three-week reviews, which will be on March 12 and April 2.
When asked what he would say to the people running and working in those businesses during the Welsh Government briefing on Friday, Mr Drakeford said: “What the sector has said to us is that they wanted to know where they stand.”
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He added: “When I met with the tourism industry taskforce on Thursday, there were a number of representatives of the hospitality trade. I explained to them that they are not likely to see a re-opening at either of the next two three-week reviews.
“A lot will happen in that six weeks and we will learn a great deal about the impact on the circulation on the virus of re-opening schools and any other measures. Providing things continue to improve, then hospitality will come on to the agenda of things we will be able to consider next
“The industry was clear that they didn’t want to be left in the dark. That is why I was clear with them that in the next six weeks our priorities will continue to be children and education, whether it is possible to open some non-essential retail, if there is any prospect of even a modest resumption in the tourism industry. Hospitality, if we can accomplish that successfully, their turn will come.”
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Mr Drakeford said that he was keen to listen to and engage with the sector, and he said the way to succeed in getting the sector back and trading was to approach the re-opening in a “careful, step-by-step” way.
“Too much, too soon, will simply return us to those very difficult days we saw before Christmas,” he told reporters.
“The other thing the hospitality industry has said to me is that they don’t want stop-start. They don’t want to be able to re-open and then find that because the virus gets a grip again, everything has to close.
“As soon as conditions allow, we want to see the sector get back into action. I think they understand, that in the long term, it is better for all to do it in a way that can be properly sustained.”