Mask wearing in healthcare settings to continue as public urged to ‘play their part’ in Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford has called on people in Wales to continue “playing their part” as most coronavirus rules in the country are set to be scrapped.

Nightclubs are set to reopen and all restrictions on meeting others are to be removed as Wales moves to alert Level 0 at 6am on Saturday.

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

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.

The Welsh Government confirmed the move to alert Level 0 on Thursday night, with Mr Drakeford due to give a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Ahead of that, he insisted the changes do not mean an “end of restrictions and a free for all” and he called on people to continue following measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking on Friday morning, Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio Wales: “I think that the history of the whole of the pandemic is that people in Wales are sensible and that people wanted to go on playing their part.

“The risk is if there are some people who think the rules don’t apply to them and act as though coronavirus had simply disappeared, then we will find the virus coming back at us again.

“It’s why we are very much saying to people in Wales today, those small things that we’ve all learned to do in our own lives – respecting other people, meeting outdoors where we can, washing our hands frequently, wearing masks in crowded indoor places – all of those things add up to a significant defence against the return of coronavirus.

“We’ve all got a reason to help keep Wales safe and we need to go on playing our part, even after the changes on Saturday, which are a really important step back in the right direction.”

Mr Drakeford said wearing a face mask in shops, health and social care settings, and on public transport will remain mandatory as it is “simple precaution” people can take.

When asked about shops, Mr Drakeford said they are enclosed public places as well as where people work and therefore spend “hours on end”.

He told the BBC there is a risk of coming into contact with someone infected with coronavirus in such settings.

“It’s a simple precaution. It doesn’t cost us very much to wear a mask for the brief time that we are in a shop, and we’re making our contribution in doing so,” Mr Drakeford said.

“In other parts of the world where mask-wearing was lifted, it’s having to be reintroduced again, as it was last week in the United States of America.”

Mr Drakeford added that he does not “expect” tighter restrictions to be reinstated in Wales – but he warned he cannot rule it out.

He said the success of Wales’s vaccination programme means the link between catching Covid-19 and requiring hospital treatment has been “radically eroded”.

He told BBC Wales: “While the vaccine programme goes on giving us that defence, I don’t expect that we will have to return to the sorts of restrictions that we saw at the beginning of this year.

“But nobody can rule out the surprises, the awful surprises that this virus has had up its sleeve, and, if there were to be a sudden change for the worse that we can’t anticipate, then of course the Welsh Government would act again to protect the lives of people in Wales.”

From Saturday, there will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet in Wales, including in private homes, public places or at events.

Businesses required to close, such as nightclubs, will be able to reopen.

Companies open to the public, as well as workplaces, will have to assess the risk of people catching coronavirus and put in measures to minimise this.

Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served but will continue to be mandatory in most indoor public places.

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