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Covid: What are the new rules for Wales?

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Restrictions from 26 December meant groups of no more than six people could meet in pubs and restaurants and licensed premises had to offer table service only

Restrictions to people’s daily lives are being eased in Wales as First Minister Mark Drakeford said Omicron cases were falling “rapidly”.

Nightclubs were closed, and stricter measures put in place for hospitality and gatherings from 26 December, in a bid to curb the rise in Omicron cases.

Now the Welsh government has said these restrictions can be “eased gradually.”

Mr Drakeford has set out a plan for Wales to return to alert level zero on 28 January – the lowest level of restrictions – if cases continue to fall.

As the plan to ease measures is revealed, what do the changes mean for people and businesses in Wales, and what can you do and when?

What is the timetable to end Covid rules?

First Minister Mark Drakeford has laid out his plan to ease restrictions by the end of January, however the measures will be relaxed bit by bit.

He said it would be a four-stage process, depending on cases remaining low, with the following timetable planned.

  • Friday 14 January: Numbers allowed to attend an outdoor event will rise from 50 to 500
  • Friday 21 January: All limits for outdoor activities will be scrapped, crowds will be able to return to sporting events and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate in the way they would have earlier in the pandemic
  • Friday 28 January: Wales moves to alert level zero. This means nightclubs can reopen and the rule of six will be scrapped in pubs and restaurants, although Covid passes will still be required for large events, plus 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?

The lowest set of restrictions since the start of the pandemic, we were last in alert level zero at Christmas.

Under it most curbs to our daily life are removed, all businesses are allowed to reopen, but people still have to wear face masks in many public places, and self isolation rules still apply.

When do I have to self-isolate?

Since 22 December, fully vaccinated adults, children aged between five and 18 and vaccine clinical trial participants identified as a close contact of a positive case of Covid-19 in Wales do not need to self-isolate.

Instead, the Welsh government strongly advises them to take lateral flow tests for seven days as a precautionary measure. Children under five do not need to isolate and are not required to take a PCR test or do lateral flow tests.

From 1 January, people who have tested positive must isolate for seven days – down from the 10 days it was previously.

Despite the change in England to five days, the Welsh government said anyone entering Wales is required to comply with Welsh law.

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The Welsh government put the measures in place on 26 December to protect customers and staff in businesses

What about meeting people?

The Welsh government has urged people to take lateral flow tests before socialising, shopping or visiting people and not to go out if it is positive.

It is advising meeting outdoors where possible and to make sure indoor meetings are well ventilated.

People, it said, should leave at least a day between social events.

Who can I see at a pub or restaurant?

From 26 December, groups of no more than six people have been allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales, with licensed premises having to offer table service only, and face masks worn, along with contact tracing details collected.

But under the Welsh government announcement, all of this will change on 28 January.

The rule of six will be scrapped, meaning people can go to the pub with whoever they like, be able to go to the bar for a drink, and social distancing will end.

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Limits on indoor or outdoor event numbers were lifted on 7 August and remain the same

What are the rules for weddings and funerals?

Limits on indoor or outdoor event numbers were lifted on 7 August.

For important life events such as weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and wakes, the numbers will be determined by the ability of the venue 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 allowed, although local rules and quarantine will apply.

What is happening to nightclubs?

Nightclubs have been closed from 26 December, but under the four stage plan, they will be allowed to open from 28 January, when Wales is set to move to alert level zero.

However, Covid passes will still be allowed for nightclubs, along with cinemas, theatres and other large events.

What about sport and exercise?

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If cases continue to remain low, sports fans will be allowed to return to events

From 26 December, sporting activities, such as running groups, have been able to take place outdoors but have been limited to a maximum of 50 from.

Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, community centres and fitness facilities have remained open but the Welsh government had said services face extra measures “such as one-way systems and physical barriers”.

Indoor classes were also limited to up 30 people.

Also, fans were effectively banned from all sporting events in Wales due to the limits, including events held indoors and outdoors, and community level sports.

Under Welsh government’s plan from 15 January the number of people allowed to attend an outdoor event will rise from 50 to 500.

On 21 January, all outdoor activities will move to alert level zero, with no limits on the number of people who can take part and crowds will be able to return to sporting events.

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Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, community centres and fitness facilities remain open

What are the Covid rules in schools?

Pupils returned later than planned for the start of the new spring term in January.

The Welsh government said schools would be given two days at the start of term to plan for 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 absence due to Covid.

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Working from home is now law again in Wales

What about going to work?

From 20 December rules were changed, meaning it is now the law to work from home, if you can.

The rules state that everyone must work from home “where reasonably practicable to do so”, this includes for voluntary or charity work.

Employees found breaching the rule, who do not have a reasonable excuse, can be fined £60, with fines increasing every time another offence is committed.

Businesses can be fined £1,000, with the fines increasing up to £10,000.

However from 28 January the work from home law will be scrapped, but the Welsh government has said it will remain important to work from home if you can

Can I visit care homes?

Current rules mean it is up to individual providers to determine who can visit and when, meaning rules differ across Wales.

Can I go on holiday in the UK?

You have been able to travel anywhere in the UK since 12 April, subject to restrictions in force in the other nations.

It also means people from other parts of the UK can come here.

All holiday accommodation was able to fully reopen from 17 May.

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