Wales moves to alert level zero; masks to remain

A man walks past a Wales souvenir shop wearing a face mask on October 23, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Wales today moves to alert level zero, completing the devolved administration’s phased lifting of the alert level two protections put in place on Boxing Day as the omicron wave swept across the country.

However, face-covering rules, which apply on public transport and in most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January, with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and nightclubs.

England’s Plan B measures expired yesterday (27 January), which has lifted the mask mandate.

The move to alert level zero in Wales means the general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces will be removed. Nightclubs can re-open and the rule of six will no longer apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres.

Licensed premises will no longer need to only provide table service and collect contact details. However, the Covid Pass will continue to be required to enter larger indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

Working from home will no longer be a legal requirement. Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus, which may include 2m social distancing or controlled entry.

In England, work-from-home guidance ended last week, and measures such as mask mandates and Covid passes, also introduced last month, lapsed on Thursday, returning the rules to where they were last July.

The UK Health Security Agency is preparing to switch focus to supporting vulnerable individuals rather than imposing national rules, according to a draft policy seen by Reuters.

“As we evolve to move to living with COVID, UKHSA’s COVID-19 response will move from a whole nation approach to a targeted response, focused on protecting the vulnerable,” read the paper, titled ‘UKHSA COVID-19 Vision – DRAFT’.

“We will ensure that our future response is more streamlined, flexible, and convenient for citizens and delivers value for money.”