Wales’ Covid restrictions to be rolled back over next two weeks, First Minister announces
Wales’ Covid restrictions will be rolled back in the next two weeks, with outdoor restrictions ditched first, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford has said that he will tomorrow set out how Wales plans to move back to alert level zero, where people only have to wear face masks and work at home where possible.
The move will raise hopes that sporting events such as the Six Nations will be able to return with crowds in place.
Since Boxing Day the Welsh Government have banned over 50 people from participating in outdoor events, and forced elite level sports teams to play in empty stadia.
Hospitality has also faced restrictions including table service and a rule of six people from different households served at once.
Mark Drakeford said that the Welsh Government 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 – more than 1.75m people have had the extra booster dose.
The move to alert level zero will be phased, with restrictions on outdoor activities being removed first, he said.
But the plan is subject to change if the Covid situation worsens, he added.
The First Minister had hinted this week that he could announce the relaxation of restrictions next week if the country was past the Omicron peak.
Speaking in the Senedd he said: “Once we are in a position of knowing that Wales has passed the peak […] then we will want, as quickly but as safely as possible, to begin to relax some of the protections that have been necessary while the omicron wave was still coming at us.”
The number of new Covid cases in Wales has dropped somewhat over the past four days, indicating that the Omicron wave may be on a downward trajectory.
Earlier today the Welsh Conservatives had called on the Welsh Government to use tomorrow’s review to “scrap their economically cruel and clinically unnecessary rules” which they said had hit businesses financially.
“The nonsensical and bizarre rules on watching and participating in sports must be scrapped given the negative effects on physical and mental health, let alone their perverse consequences, which is evident in pushing people indoors to watch games instead,” they said.
“The First Minister must also explore reducing the self-isolation period from seven to five days, particularly as the scientific data shows most people aren’t infectious after five days. This will ease workforce pressure in our public services, boost the economy, and move us towards living with the virus.
“Labour’s response to Omicron has been proven to be a mistake and they’ve decided to keep the strictest possible restrictions in place in the UK to save face, no matter the consequences for the finances of businesses and the mental wellbeing of people across the nation.
“Ministers have made Wales an outlier which has put livelihoods at risk. They must now change course and at the very minimum tomorrow publish a roadmap out of restrictions.”
Plaid Cymru had also called for restrictions on outdoor sporting events to be lifted.
“Being proportionate and appearing to be fair has to be an essential part of regulation – for that reason, especially if we have reached the peak in cases, the limit on outdoor sporting events must now be lifted,” health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said.
“The benefits of taking part in events such as parkruns and watching sports outside in the fresh air surely outweighs the risks?”
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