HAIR salons and barbers in Wales are open from TODAY as coronavirus restrictions are eased – but people in England will have to wait another four weeks for a chop.
The change marks the first lifting of rules for close contact services since Wales entered lockdown on December 20.
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First Minister Mark Drakeford said on Friday that hairdressing businesses would be allowed to reopen because they have "gone through everything that is needed in order to operate safely".
Welsh Government regulations say that hairdressers can only serve customers with an appointment, and that their services will be restricted to haircuts only.
However, businesses like nail parlours and beauty salons are expected to remain shut until at least April 12.
In England, hairdressers and barbers can reopen from April 12 at the earliest as part of the second stage of easing lockdown restrictions, if conditions allow.
Hairdressers have been shut throughout the third lockdown in England, which started on January 5.
Before that, hair-cutting studios were also told to shut in Tier 4 areas as part of the regional tier system.
The reopening of businesses on this April 12 will be assessed against four tests before restrictions can ease.
As long as the data allows, the PM aims to review and relax more rules every five weeks giving a week's notice of the update.
Hairdressers and barbers in England were forced to shut during the first lockdown in March 2020 and were among the last to reopen in July 2020.
There was a second four-week shutdown in November that lasted until December 2.
When hairdressers reopen, it is likely that not every station in the salon will be used, with hairdressers working at every other station to maintain a two-metre distance between them.
The British Beauty Council recommends that staff wear gloves, masks and gowns, while customers will also likely have to wear masks.
What four tests does England need to pass before easing restrictions?
1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
4. Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
Meanwhile, today will also see primary school pupils in Wales return to classrooms for the first time this year.
They will join those in foundation years who returned last month, while face-to-face teaching will also resume for learners in years 11 and 13.
Teachers can also invite learners in years 10 and 12 back to school in order to support their learning.
All other years will be allowed to "check-in" with teachers on a limited number of days before a full school return from April 12.
It comes after Wales' "stay-at-home" restrictions were lifted on Saturday, as the country moved to a "stay local" period, with travel restrictions expected to be eased further in time for Easter.
Wales' seven-day case rate on Sunday stood at 39 cases per 100,000 people, the lowest of any country in the United Kingdom.
Public Health Wales said a total of 1,113,498 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been given, an increase of 29,169 from the previous day, while 257,398 second doses were also given, an increase of 7,372.
There were a further 217 confirmed cases, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 206,405, while 10 further deaths took the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,452.
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