Wales

Almost all of the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Wales but masks will still be mandatory
Most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions in Wales have been lifted as the country moves to alert level zero.

Social distancing rules and limits on how many people can meet indoors have now ended, almost 17 months after the first lockdown.

However, rules will remain tighter than in England, with face masks still required by law in many public places.

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford official announced plans for Wales to enter level zero on Friday
First Minister Mark Drakeford said masks are still required in most indoor public places, including in shops, healthcare settings and on public transport.

However, they are no longer a legal requirement in hospitality venues where food and drink is served.

Mr Drakeford urged people to still be sensible despite the lifting of restrictions.

"Alert level zero does not mean the end of restrictions and a free-for-all," Mr Drakeford said.

"But it does mean we can all enjoy more freedoms with the confidence there are still important protections in place to make sure our public health is being safeguarded while we are out and about.

"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.

"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."

Fully vaccinated adults and under-18s will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

People will still have to isolate for 10 days if they have symptoms or receive a positive test result.

Mr Drakeford said health boards there are beginning to send out vaccine invites to 16 and 17-year-olds.

But he expressed concern about the idea of vaccine passports, saying: "There's a distinction between places you have to visit - and I would not have vaccine passports for these places - and places we attend voluntarily.

"There are also ethical considerations and there are equity considerations.

"You need to think about people who can't be vaccinated, not simply people who don't choose to be vaccinated."

Some rules were relaxed on 17 July when Wales moved to alert level one, a step that had been delayed by four weeks because of the spread of the Delta variant first identified in India.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Wales comes after Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed earlier this week that Scotland will lift most of its remaining rules on Monday.

Ministers are set to discuss relaxing more rules in Northern Ireland at a meeting on 12 August.

The majority of COVID-19 rules were lifted in England on 19 July.