Limits raised on outdoor activity numbers and nightclubs set to reopen in phased lifting of measures
Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen in Wales under plans to gradually ease restrictions.
Outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without extra coronavirus restrictions, first minister Mark Drakeford announced.
Setting out a plan to return Wales to alert level zero measures, he said that from tomorrow, Saturday, the number of people who can be at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500 in the country.
And from next Friday, Wales is set to move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities, which means there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities.
However, the Covid pass will still be required for entry to larger outdoor events.
Mr Drakeford stressed the full move to alert level zero would depend on the Covid public health situation continuing to improve.
From two weeks’ time, Friday 28 January, nightclubs will be able to reopen, he announced.
And working from home would no longer be a legal requirement, but would remain important, he said.
Referring to scientific modelling, he said numbers of infections had fallen sharply in the past week.
Also from the end of the month, businesses, employers and other organisations must undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
And the Covid pass will be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.
But the rule of six, table service and 2m physical distancing would no longer be obligatory in pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants.
The success of the vaccination programme – in Wales it was the fastest in the UK, he said – was partly what allowed the government to ease restrictions, Mr Drakeford said, adding: “The actions we have taken together have helped us to weather the omicron storm. The latest data suggests some positive signs that the peak may have passed.
“We can now look more confidently to the future and plan to start gradually removing the alert level two restrictions, starting with the outdoors measures.”
He also struck a note of caution, saying the drop in PCR tests being taken inevitably led to a cut in infection numbers.
“The pandemic is not over. We will closely monitor the public health situation – this is a fast-moving and volatile variant, which could change suddenly. I urge everyone to continue to follow the rules and have your vaccines to keep Wales safe,” he said.
After the return to level zero, the regulations will be reviewed three-weekly, instead of weekly, he said.
Numbers of people in hospital were down, but he warned: “The levels of coronavirus, though falling, are still high, and there could still be some difficult weeks and days ahead.”