Self-isolation and face masks in shops and public transport rules dropped in Wales from Monday
Face masks will no longer be legally required in shops and on public transport and the requirement to self-isolate with Covid will also move into guidance, the First Minister has announced.
Wales will continue to gradually relax some of its remaining pandemic protections, Mark Drakeford will announce tomorrow. The rules have already been eased in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, despite rising case rates.
However, two key legal protections will remain in place as coronavirus cases have risen sharply in recent weeks, driven by the BA.2 sub-type of the omicron variant.
Face coverings will remain a legal requirement in health and social care settings and coronavirus risk assessments must continue to be carried out by businesses, with reasonable measures put in place in light of those assessments.
Face masks and self-isolation will continue to be recommended in public health advice. A £500 self-isolation payment to support people will continue to be available until June.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have seen an unwelcome rise in coronavirus cases across Wales, mirroring the position in most of the UK.
“We have carefully considered the very latest scientific and medical evidence and we need to keep some legal protections in place for a little while longer, to help keep Wales safe.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have taken a gradual and cautious approach as we have relaxed protections.
“We are firmly on the path towards leaving the emergency response to the pandemic behind us and learning to live with coronavirus safely.”
The next three-weekly review of coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 14 April, when the remaining legal measures will be reviewed.
Plaid Cymru responded to the news that from Monday, face masks will no longer be required by law in retail settings and on public transport, and that the requirement to self-isolate will also move into guidance, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care.
“While it is good news that the government deems it safe enough to end further restrictions, the fact remains that key worker illness and sickness absence is now a real problem for many services,” Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said.
“With staff shortages across health, care and education settings, there will be genuine concerns over the impact of lifting the remaining protections, at a time when cases are rising.
“Government must set out exactly how it plans to ease the pressure – particularly on our health and care services – should rising cases impact the service levels any further.
“With a jump in cases, many will be concerned at the timing of the lifting of these measures. There are issues around whether the end of self-isolation will signal the end of free lateral flow tests, so there remain areas on which Welsh Government have to provide further clarity.”
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