Covid passes dropped and face masks to be phased out says Mark Drakeford as Wales leaves ’emergency footing’
Covid passes will no longer be needed from the end of next week and face masks will begin to be phased out before St David’s Day, the First Minister has announced.
From 18 February the legal requirement to show a Covid Pass to enter certain venues and events will be lifted, and from 28 February face coverings will no longer need to be worn in indoor public places apart from retail, public transport and health and care settings.
If the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could also be lifted by the end of March, Mark Drakeford said.
“With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and boosted and thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone across Wales, we are confident that coronavirus rates are falling and we can look forward to brighter times ahead,” he said.
“We can start to gradually and carefully remove some of the remaining protections we have in place at alert level zero. But we are not removing all the measures at once because the pandemic is not over yet.
“To keep Wales safe we need to remain cautious and do everything we can to reassure those who feel most at risk. We will keep some important protections in place, including face coverings in health and social care settings, on public transport and in all shops. We will also keep self-isolation rules in place.
“Next month, we will publish a plan setting out how we will move beyond alert level zero and the emergency footing on which we have been operating for nearly two years.
“This will help us all to make some plans for the future.”
Mark Drakeford will not himself attend tomorrow’s press conference after it was announced today that he had caught Covid.
From Friday 18 February, the domestic Covid Pass will no longer be required for entry into indoor or outdoor events and venues, including nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. But events and venues will be able to continue to use it if they choose to.
The international Covid Pass will continue to be integral to arrangements for safer international travel. Travellers will need to check the relevant countries’ rules for entry, including any different requirements for children.
From Monday 28 February, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
The changes will be confirmed on Friday, following the first three-week review of Wales’ alert level zero measures.
The latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey suggest levels of infection have recently fallen, but community transmission rates remain relatively high in all parts of Wales.
Schools will return to using their local decision framework from 28 February and from 11 February the guidance will be updated to make it clear adults can remove their face coverings when they are interacting with babies and small children at baby and toddler groups.
The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 3 March, when the remaining measures at alert level zero will be reviewed.
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