PLANS to allow family and friends to meet outside have been unveiled by the First Minister as the strict stay-at-home coronavirus regulations are eased in Wales.

From Monday, June 1, two households in the same local area will be able to meet outdoors. However, people must continue to follow social distancing and strict hand hygiene practices to control the spread of the virus.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We recognise what people have given up to help Wales slow the spread of coronavirus. I want to thank everyone for everything they have done – by sticking to the rules, we are all helping to protect each other and help our NHS respond to the pandemic.

“We know people are missing seeing their family and friends – the latest evidence, which underpins this review, means we can make some changes, to enable people to meet again, if it is done outdoors and locally, and people continue to follow the social distancing guidance.

“We are learning more about this virus every day and we know the risk of transmission is lower outdoors than indoors. That’s why, if we all remain two metres apart, two households will be able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens.

“However, a lower risk doesn’t mean no risk. Even in these circumstances it is vital we all maintain social distancing so we can continue to tackle the spread of this virus.

“Now and in the days and months ahead we all have a personal responsibility to make sure our actions don’t contribute to the spread of coronavirus. Please help keep Wales safe by staying local.”

The changes mean people can meet another household outdoors in their local area but all the other rules to protect people from coronavirus will stay in place for the time being.

Local means not generally travelling more than five miles from home to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading from one area to another.

Another change to the eased measures includes allowing weddings and civil partnerships to take place if the bride or groom is terminally ill.

The changes follow the third statutory review of the regulations by Welsh Ministers and is based on the latest scientific evidence from SAGE and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for Wales.

The Welsh Government report that Wales has passed the first peak of infection and rates are falling but an R rate of 0.8 remains.

Both SAGE and the World Health Organisation has advised changes should only be made one step at a time.

The need to stay local and not mix with others other than in certain circumstances will be subject to exceptions similar to those that currently apply.

The Welsh Government say that guidance will be provided about what staying local means in different circumstances.

The First Minister has also today signalled that non-essential retail businesses, which can comply with the physical distancing duty, should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

A decision about whether non-essential retail will reopen will be taken at the next review on 18 June and will depend on the scientific and medical evidence.

Regarding businesses, the First Minister said: “This will allow us to restart activity as soon as possible if the conditions allow. We will continue to work closely with the public sector, trade unions, businesses, the third sector and others to achieve this.”

At the next review date, the Welsh Government will examine options for re-opening non-essential retail, increasing capacity for childcare and public transport to support a wider return to work and facilitating moving house to boost the housing market.

There will also be a review into re-opening outdoors sites - including markets, sports courts, showrooms and museums.

There will also be consideration on how to begin re-opening facilities for non-professional elite athletes to train safely.