Move to Alert level 0 is big step closer to life says Wales First Minister

Move to Alert level 0 is ‘big step closer to life’, says Wales’ First Minister

First Minister Mark Drakeford has called Wales’ move to alert level 0 a “big step closer to life”.

From 6am on Saturday, all restrictions on meeting others are to be removed and all businesses, including nightclubs, reopened.

However, Mr Drakeford has warned that the changes do not mean an “end of restrictions and a free for all”.

Face masks will continue to be required on public transport, in health and social care settings, and in shops.

Venues will be required by law to undertake coronavirus risk assessments, intended to encourage businesses to keep in place measures such as ventilation or social distancing where necessary to keep staff and customers safe.

Adults who are fully vaccinated and young people under the age of 18 will no longer need to isolate if they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus.

But people must continue to isolate for 10 days if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or if they have a positive test result.

Speaking at the Welsh Government press conference on Friday, Mr Drakeford said 82% of adults in the country have had both doses of the vaccine, while the incidence rate of Covid-19 is now 130 cases per 100,000 people.

“Our high vaccination rates, some of the best in the whole of the world, have helped to weaken the link between coronavirus infection, serious illness and hospitalisation,” he said.

“Having reached this important milestone, we now need to carefully monitor the impact of lifting so many restrictions and we therefore do not expect to make any further changes at the next review.”

He added: “Alert level 0 does not mean the end of coronavirus and it very certainly does not mean a free-for-all here in Wales.

“We still have people who are clinically vulnerable in our communities and most people in Wales want to go on acting carefully to protect their health and the health of others.”

The changes which come into affect over the weekend will remain in place for six weeks, he said.

Asked if he was concerned about a re-emergence of the virus during the autumn and winter months ahead, Mr Drakeford said people can be confident that Wales is on the “final lap of emerging from the pandemic”, provided further “unexpected turns” do not happen.

However, he refused to rule out another lockdown, saying: “Were a new variant to emerge, or the virus take a turn in which vaccination were less effective than we have it today, then inevitably we would have to face the consequences of that and take measures to address it.

“While things remain as they are, while we all go on making the contribution we can, I think we can have some confidence that today’s latest steps out of coronavirus put us on that path beyond this and into the future.”

“This is a big step closer to life,” he added.

Pubs and restaurants will now have to decide which measures to keep in place based on their “individual circumstances”, he said.

And the First Minister added: “They understand they have to give people confidence that if they come to that venue their health and welfare has been thought about in advance.”

The Government will not consider making vaccine passports mandatory for specific venues for some weeks, Mr Drakeford confirmed, saying the Government would continue to “weigh up” whether it would be “practical and proportionate”.

Repeating the Welsh health minister’s warning about high flu rates this winter, Mr Drakeford said: “It’s going to be a challenging winter for the NHS.

“Mask wearing and other measures still in place will make a contribution on the wider winter front rather than just specifically coronavirus.”

Mr Drakeford said the UK Government’s changes to international travel restrictions this week were “shambolic”, but he repeated Number 10’s advice: “This is the year to stay at home.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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