Wales sets out two week plan to return to Covid level zero restrictions

Coronavirus restrictions in Wales will be eased over the next two weeks, the Welsh Government has announced.

The First Minister set out plans to move back to Alert Level Zero if the public health situation continues to improve.

Mark Drakeford will set out the two-week plan to ease the alert level two restrictions which have been in place since Boxing Day.

The First Minister has confirmed that from Saturday, January 15, the number of people who can take part in outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500.

From January 21, all outdoor activities will move to Alert Level 0. This means there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities, crowds will be able to return to sporting events and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate in the way they would have earlier in pandemic.

The First Minister also added that if numbers continue to fall, from Friday January 28, Wales will move to Alert Level 0 for all indoor activities and premises.

He said that Covid passes would still be required for large events and for nightclubs, cinemas and theatres. The hospitality industry would also be able to return to normal. 

The Welsh Government will then revert to a three weekly review process, and will continue to monitor the situation.

Rules in place since December 26 meant no more than six people could meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants. Outdoor events have been limited to 50 people, with 30 indoors.

The Welsh Government says it is able to start removing the protections put in place in response to the Omicron wave thanks to the support of people across Wales and the successful booster campaign.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales this morning, Mark Drakeford said: "When we introduced the Level Two measures, our scientific advisers said that we would need to have them in place for four weeks for them to have the effect we wanted them to have. That four weeks is up on Friday next week. The modelling showed a very rapid rise in coronavirus and a very rapid fall - that's what we've seen in the last week."

The Covid rate in Wales has fallen from 2,300 per 100,000 people last week (January 7) to 1,200 today.

He added: "I think it's because we've put those protections in place and most of all because of the fantastic way in which people in Wales while we've been in the grip of the Omicron wave have acted responsibly and done all of the things that have been asked of them.

"It's because of that that we're in this more benign position where we're able to lift some of those protections a bit earlier than we had anticipated because of all the hard work that people in Wales have put in to keeping themselves and other people safe."

The Welsh Conservatives said they are glad the Welsh government has "finally listened to calls" to produce a roadmap out of restrictions.

Andrew RT Davies said: "Labour ministers clearly overreacted to Omicron, and that has caused significant pain and anguish for families and businesses in Wales."

“Sadly, Labour have left Wales as an outlier in the U.K. with the strictest restrictions when it comes to sport, outdoor activity and hospitality."

He added: “The British booster campaign has been a resounding success and as such Labour should now move swiftly and remove restrictions as we get on the road to recovery and as a nation learn to live with COVID.”

What is coronavirus alert level zero?

Wales moved to alert level 0 on August 7 last year. From that time, there were no legal limits on the number of people who could meet, including in private homes, public places or at events. In addition all businesses and premises could be open.

The Welsh Government kept some key rules in place in law:

  • Businesses, employers and other organisations had to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus.

  • Everyone had to isolate for 10 days if they tested positive for COVID-19. Isolation time was reduced to seven days in Wales in January.

  • Adults and children aged 11 and over had to wear face masks in indoor public places, with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes or nightclubs.