Covid rules on masks and self-isolation ended in Wales today
Face masks are no longer be legally required in shops and on public transport, and the requirement to self-isolate with Covid will also move into guidance from today.
Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in health and social care settings, the Welsh Government has said.
It comes after the Welsh Government’s own scientific advisors said that they wanted to see mask-wearing and self-isolation continue.
“TAC would continue to strongly advocate close surveillance of COVID-19 trends and clear messaging and support for the continuation of personal protective behaviours such as self-isolation on receipt of a positive test and correct use of face coverings in some settings,” they said in advice given to the Welsh Government last week.
The First Minister said over the weekend that Covid rules could not remain law forever, but that the people of Wales are being strongly urged to continue to self-isolate if they do catch Covid and to wear face masks in crowded places.
Mark Drakeford said that although they were seeing a “very rapid rise” of cases of the BA2 variant they were “not seeing anything like the same rise in a number of people in hospital because of Coronavirus”.
“The course of action that the cabinet has taken is to keep on course to a position where we rely on good advice, continue to adhere and still to all those things we’ve learned to do,” he said.
“But where we can’t rely forever on the law to find a pathway for us to dealing with a virus that’s going to be with us not just for weeks ahead, but for months and no doubt the whole of this calendar year.”
Wales’ Chief Medical Officer also urged caution and vigilance as community transmission of COVID-19 continues to rise across Wales.
Commenting after the announcement on Friday, Dr Atherton said: “Community transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase across Wales and the UK. This is likely to be a result of three things; a rise in the sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, waning population immunity, and the recent easing of NPI protections.
“Hospitalisation rates are increasing but this is not currently translating into severe pressure on intensive care services or an increase in COVID-19 related deaths.
“The main risk at present arises from sustained pressure on health services as a consequence of increased numbers of hospitalised COVID-positive patients, increased length of stay, and increased staff absences.
“We should remain vigilant in our surveillance efforts; indicators to watch closely include ITU admissions, the arrival of new variants of concern, system-wide health/social care pressures, and any increase in all-cause mortality.
“As the BA.2 driven wave continues to progress across the UK nations we can anticipate further rises in community infection rates in the coming weeks. The direct impact of this resurgence is unpredictable.
“The current uncertainty lends itself to a continuation of our cautious approach and the retention of some alert level zero protections for an additional period of time, will allow for further monitoring and assessment of the impact on the epidemiological picture.”
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