Restrictions on people’s daily lives have been eased in Wales as First Minister Mark Drakeford said Omicron cases were declining “rapidly”.
Nightclubs have been closed, and stricter measures for hospitality and gatherings have been introduced from December 26, in an effort to curb the rise in Omicron cases.
The Welsh government has now said these restrictions can be “gradually relaxed”.
Mr Drakeford laid out a plan for Wells to return to alert level zero on January 28 – the lowest level of restrictions – if cases continue to fall.
With the unveiling of the easing plan, what do the changes mean for people and businesses in Wales, and what can you do and when?
What is the timeline for ending covid rules?
First Minister Mark Druckford has laid out his plan to ease restrictions by the end of January, but the measures will be eased little by little.
He said it will be a four-stage process, depending on which cases remain low, with the next timeline planned.
- Friday January 14: Numbers allowed to attend an outdoor event will increase from 50 to 500
- Friday January 21: All restrictions on outdoor activities will be lifted, fans will be able to return to sporting events and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate in the way it would have done earlier in the pandemic.
- Friday 28 January: Wales moves to alert level zero. This means nightclubs can reopen and the rule of six in bars and restaurants will be scrapped, although Covid permits will still be required for large events, as well as cinemas, nightclubs and theatres.
- Thursday 10 February: Wales returns to a three-week review cycle as the country is at alert level zero
What is alert level zero?
Lowest set of restrictions since the start of the pandemic, we were last at zero alert level at Christmas.
Under it most restrictions on our daily lives are removed, all businesses are allowed to reopen, but people are still required to wear face masks in many public places, and self-isolation rules remain in place.
When should I self-isolate?
Since December 22, fully vaccinated adults and children aged 5-18 years who are participating in clinical trials of the vaccine who have been identified as having close contact with a positive case of Covid-19 in Wales do not need to self-isolate.
Instead, the Welsh government strongly advises them to take seven-day lateral flow tests as a precaution. Children under the age of five do not need to be isolated and are not required to have the PCR or lateral flow tests.
From January 1, people who test positive must be isolated for seven days – less than the previous ten days.
Despite the change in England to five days, the Welsh government said anyone entering Wales was obligated to comply with Welsh law.
How about meeting people?
The Welsh government has urged people to take lateral flow tests before socializing, shopping or visiting people and not to go out if they test positive.
It is advisable to meet outdoors where possible and to ensure that indoor meetings are well ventilated.
She said people should leave at least a day between social events.
Who can I see in a bar or restaurant?
From December 26, groups of no more than six people are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales, where licensed premises are required to provide table service only, and to wear face masks, along with contact tracing details collected.
But under the Welsh government’s announcement, this will all change on January 28.
The rule of six will be repealed, which means people can go to the pub with whomever they like, be able to go to the pub for a drink, and social distancing will end.
What are the rules for weddings and funerals?
Restrictions on indoor or outdoor event numbers were lifted on August 7.
For important life events such as weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and wakeups, the numbers will be determined by the venue’s ability to manage social distancing and other reasonable measures.
All guests will need to take a lateral flow test.
Can I travel to and from Wales?
You can, and international travel is permitted, although local rules and quarantines apply.
What happens to nightclubs?
Nightclubs are closed from December 26, but under the four-stage plan they will be allowed to open from January 28, when Wales is set to go to alert level zero.
However, Covid passes will still be allowed for nightclubs, along with cinemas, theaters and other large events.
What about sports and exercise?
As of December 26, sports activities, such as group running, are now able to be done outdoors but are limited to a maximum of 50 people.
Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, community centers and fitness facilities remained open but the Welsh government said services faced additional measures “such as one-way regulations and physical barriers”.
Indoor classes were also limited to 30 people.
Also, fans have been effectively banned from all sporting events in Wales due to restrictions, including those held indoors and outdoors, and community-wide sports.
Under the Welsh government’s plan from January 15, the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event will rise from 50 to 500.
On January 21, all outdoor activities will be moved to alert level zero, with no restrictions on the number of people who can participate and fans will be able to return to sporting events.
What are the rules for covid in schools?
The pupils returned later than planned at the start of the new spring semester in January.
The Welsh government said schools will be given two days at the start of the term to plan some lessons, classes or the whole school to go online.
There have been warnings that some teaching may have to move online as a result of staff absences due to Covid.
How about going to work?
As of December 20 the rules have been changed, which means it’s now legal to work from home, if you can.
The rules state that everyone must work from home “where practicable,” and this includes volunteer or charitable work.
Employees who break the rule, and have no reasonable excuse, can be fined £60, with the fines increasing each time another offense is committed.
Businesses can be fined £1,000, with fines increasing to £10,000.
However, from January 28 the work-from-home law will be scrapped, but the Welsh government has said it will still be important to work from home if you can
Can I visit nursing homes?
Existing rules mean it is up to individual providers to decide who can visit and when, meaning the rules vary across Wales.
Can I go on holiday in the UK?
I have been able to travel anywhere in the UK since April 12, subject to restrictions in place in other countries.
This also means that people from other parts of the UK can come here.
All accommodations have fully reopened as of May 17th.
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