THE relaxation of lockdown restrictions in Wales is being accelerated - meaning gyms and leisure centres will be able to re-open earlier than planned - as Covid-19 infections continue to fall, Mark Drakeford has announced.

People will be able to form an extended households, visit the gym, and take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned.

Mark Drakeford last week set out a timetable for moving Wales into alert level three - but some of these measures will now be introduced sooner than planned.

The planned opening date for organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions will be moved forward to Monday, April 26, from May 3.

And from Monday, May 3 - a week earlier than previously signalled - gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be able to reopen for individual or one-to-one training.

Extended households will also be allowed again, enabling two households to meet and have contact outdoors.

The decision is based on the fact cases have fallen markedly in Wales from 37 cases per 100,000 people to fewer than 21 per 100,000 this week.

The pressure on hospitals also continues to ease. Confirmed cases in hospital beds now stands at 89 – 26 per cent lower than last Thursday, and the lowest position since September 22.

Mr Drakeford said: “Last week we set out our programme to further reopen the economy and relax the restrictions we have lived with for so long, as part of our careful, step-by-step approach to keeping everyone safe.

“This week, because of the improvements we continue to see, we can bring forward some of our plans.

“This is only possible because of the efforts everyone is making to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Taking into consideration the latest revised plans, this is what we can expect in Wales over the next month:

From Monday April 12:

  • Full return of children to schools for face-to-face education, all post-16 learners will return to further education, and university campuses will be able to open for blended learning;
  • All shops to reopen;
  • All remaining close contact services will reopen;
  • Travel restrictions on those coming in and out of Wales will be lifted, but restrictions on travel to countries outside the Common Travel Area without a reasonable excuse remain in place;
  • Wedding ‘show-arounds’ by appointment are allowed;
  • Restrictions on political canvassing are removed.

From Monday April 26:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will reopen;
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume;
  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place;
  • Wedding receptions can take place outdoors for up to 30 people.

From Monday May 3:

  • Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen to individual or one-to-one training, but not exercise classes;
  • Extended households will again allow two households to meet and have contact indoors.

A small number of pilot events of between 200 and 1,000 people are also being planned.