Covid rules in Wales: Mark Drakeford announces full timetable for easing restrictions

By Cathy Owen

First Minister Mark Drakeford has outlined the plan for lifting of restrictions in Wales by the end of January.

Wales will return to alert level zero - and minimal coronavirus restrictions - within the next two weeks, if the public health situation continues to improve and cases continue to fall.

Mr Drakeford said that rates had fallen from 2,300 per 100,000 of the Welsh population last Friday (January 7), to 1,200 this week, and that it had given Welsh Government the "space" to start lifting restrictions.

See live Covid updates today as he gives a press conference and faces questions from journalists

Outlining the timetable for easing of restrictions, the First Minister said it was going to be a four-stage process.

Here are the dates:

Saturday, January 15 -the number of people who can be present at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500.

Friday, January 21 - all outdoor activities will move to alert level zero.

  • Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events
  • Outdoor hospitality would be able to operate without additional reasonable measures.
  • The Covid Pass will be required for entry to larger outdoor events.
  • Friday, January 28 - Wales will move to alert level zero for all indoor places and nightclubs will be able to open. Reviews will return to being every three weeks.

  • Nightclubs will be able to re-open.
  • Working from home would remain important but it would no longer be a legal requirement.
  • Businesses, employers and other organisations must undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
  • The Covid Pass will be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
  • The rule of 6, table service and 2m physical distancing no longer required in hospitality.
  • The self-isolation rules for all those who test positive for Covid and the face covering rules for most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January.

    Mr Drakeford was grilled about his decision on Radio 4 and Radio Wales this morning. See his answers in full here as he faced difficult questions.

    Covid passes will still be needed for large events, cinemas and nightclubs.

    Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday: "The data and the science is saying to us that - as the modelling in Wales predicted- we appear to have passed the peak of Omicron and are coming down very rapidly on the other side, and that gives us confidence that over the next two weeks we can gradually and carefully lift the level of protections we needed over the Christmas and New Year period. From a public health perspective, it will then be safe to do so."

    What do you think of the plans? Have your say in the comments section.

    Wales has been at alert level two since Boxing Day. It means caps on people meeting indoors and outdoors, hospitality must stick to rules about table service and have groups no bigger than six, and has seen a ban on crowds at sporting events. Nightclubs were also forced to close their doors.

    The restrictions were brought in over fears of the impact of the Omicron variant

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