Wales to relax most coronavirus restrictions as country moves to alert level zero

5 August 2021, 22:00

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced Wales will move to alert level zero at 6am on Saturday
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced Wales will move to alert level zero at 6am on Saturday. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Wales will move into alert level zero on Saturday, the First Minister has confirmed.

Mark Drakeford said that from Saturday August 7 the country will move to alert level zero, meaning all restrictions on socialising will be removed and all businesses will be able to open.

"Moving to alert level zero is another significant step forward for us all," said Mr Drakeford.

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"For the first time since the pandemic started, all businesses will be able to open and all legal limits on meeting people in indoor private spaces will be removed."

He said it meant people could "enjoy more freedoms with the confidence there are still important protections in place to make sure our public health is being safeguarded".

However he said that the move to level zero "does not mean the end of restrictions and a free for all".

"Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet and we all need to work together to do everything we can to keep this virus under control – at alert level zero, everything we do will have an impact on this virus," he said.

"Even if you have been fully vaccinated, meeting outside is safer than inside; let fresh air into indoor spaces, get tested even for mild symptoms, and self-isolate when you are required to do so.

"Continue to keep our distance when we are out and work from home whenever we can. Wear a face mask, especially in crowded places, on public transport, in shops and in health and social care settings."

He added: "We’ve all got a reason to keep Wales safe."

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At level zero, there are no legal limits on the number of people who can meet and businesses such as nightclubs can reopen.

Premises and workplaces will also have more freedom to decide what measures they will take to limit the spread of coronavirus, and face masks will no longer be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food or drink is served.

However, they will continue to be mandatory in most other indoor places such as public transport, shops and healthcare settings.

Other rules remaining in place for the time being include self-isolation for positive cases or people experiencing symptoms, as well as the requirement for premises to carry out Covid risk assessments.

However, also from August 7, fully-jabbed adults and those under the age of 18 will no longer need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has coronavirus.

The move comes as England announced the latest changes to the traffic light system for international travel.

The UK Government announced a number of changes on Wednesday, including seven new green list countries and the removal of the requirement for double-vaccinated travellers from France to isolate upon arrival in the UK.

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In response, Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the Welsh Government had decided to replicate the changes announced for England but said it was for practical reasons only and that the advice to avoid non-essential international travel would remain in place.

"As we share an open border with England, it would not be practical or viable to introduce a separate border health policy," said Ms Morgan in a statement.

"Therefore, we will replicate the changes being made in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to maintain the same traffic-light system as the rest of the UK."

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She said the fact the decision had been made without consulting the Welsh Government was "unacceptable".

"Despite our continued efforts to press for UK-wide decision-making in this area, decisions for England have once again been made without engagement with the Welsh Government or the other Devolved Governments," she said,

"This is unacceptable – international travel policy affects all parts of the UK and Welsh interests need to be part of the decision-making process.

"We are extremely disappointed with the unilateral approach taken and believe there remain clear public health risks posed by re-opening international travel while the virus is circulating globally.

"For these reasons, we continue to caution against international travel for non-essential reasons this summer."

The changes to the travel lists will come into force at 4am on Sunday August 8, whilst the move to level zero will officially happen at 6am on Saturday August 7.