Covid rule changes in Wales: The big differences expected this week as nearly all restrictions to go

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Nearly all coronavirus restrictions in Wales are set to be lifted this week, potentially giving people the most freedom since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

From Saturday, August 7, Wales could move to alert level zero if ministers agree that the public health situation allows. This would see an end to almost all restrictions. The country has been bound by some level of restrictions since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world 17 months ago.

Since that time we have seen two full-scale-lockdowns and a firebreak lockdown last autumn, and even when shops and businesses have been able to re-open they have been bound by strict guidelines on how they can operate and how many customers they can serve.

Read more:The areas of Wales which still have almost no Covid cases

There have been limits on where we can travel, whose houses we can visit and how many people we can meet up with at different times, both indoors and outdoors. But First Minister Mark Drakeford offered some hope of a return to normality last month when he outlined how he expected Wales to move out of restrictions.



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Since July 17, Wales has been at alert level one, meaning an easing of some restrictions. This has allowed up to six people to meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation, enabled organised indoor events for up to 1,000 people seated and up to 200 people standing, and enabled groups of up to 30 to visit children’s residential activity centres.

From Saturday, August 7, Wales is expected to move into alert level zero, subject to the public health situation. An official announcement on a lifting of restrictions will be made on Friday, when the latest three-week review period ends. It is understood that the Welsh Government’s cabinet will meet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before any official decision is made on Thursday.

Should the decision be made to move to alert level zero, there will also be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet others indoors, including in private homes. All premises – including nightclubs – would be able to open and most, but not all, restrictions will be removed.

Also from August 7, masks will not need to be worn in hospitality settings but will continue to be required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport. It means Wales is following a very similar timetable to Scotland which is set to lift all restrictions from August 9.

One change already confirmed by the Welsh Government is the news that people who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccination will no longer need to isolate if they have come into contact with a positive coronavirus case. The change will come into force on Saturday, along with the further easing of restrictions that are expected to be confirmed on Friday.

From Monday August 2 people visiting Wales from amber list countries who received a coronavirus vaccine in the US or EU will also not have to self-isolate for 10 days.

The changes in Wales expected to be implemented from August 7 include:

  • no limits on the number of people who can meet indoors
  • face masks will not be required in pubs, restaurants and bars
  • there will be no legal requirement to follow social distancing guidelines (businesses and venues will be able to carry out their own risk assessments)
  • double-vaccinated people will no longer be legally required to self isolate if they come into contact with someone with Covid
  • children and young people under 18 will be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of a positive case
  • everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not
  • the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) service will use the Welsh Immunisation Service to identify adults who are fully-vaccinated and who will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts
  • instead of instructing fully-vaccinated adults to isolate, contact tracers and advisers will provide them with advice and guidance about how to protect themselves and stay safe

More than 80% of adults in Wales have now received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine and, while new cases have risen sharply since the end of May, rates have fallen over the past week.

Speaking last month when he announced the move to alert level one, Mark Drakeford said: “We can be reasonably confident that vaccination has weakened the link between infections and serious illness but there is still a risk that this third wave of the pandemic could cause real harm – either direct harm from the virus or indirect harm from, for example, people having to isolate.

“The pandemic is not over and the virus continues to spread across Wales, which makes it really important for everyone to say yes to vaccination and to do everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Even though vaccines have weakened the link between the virus and hospitalisation, we are seeing young, fit people suffer from long-Covid, which, for some, has a major impact on their lives.”

Mr Drakeford will address the nation at a press conference on Friday lunchtime, August 6.

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