Wales to end all Covid restrictions – but Mark Drakeford vows to 'remain alert' in case of new variants

The First Minister urged people to keep taking "simple steps" to combat the virus

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Mark Drakeford has said Wales can look forward to a “brighter future” as he announced plans to lift the last remaining Covid-19 restrictions.

The legal requirement to wear a face covering in health and care settings will end on Monday May 30, the Welsh Government said.

But the First Minister urged people to keep taking steps to protect their health as the country moves beyond the emergency response to the pandemic.

He repeated the warning the four UK chief medical officers issued this week about the risk of new variants.

First Minister Mark Drakeford speaks during a Welsh Government press conference at the Crown Buildings, Cathay Park in Cardiff.
First Minister Mark Drakeford speaks during a Welsh Government press conference at the Crown Buildings, Cathay Park in Cardiff.
The Senedd in Cardiff where the Welsh Government sits.
The Senedd in Cardiff where the Welsh Government sits.

Mr Drakeford said: “The pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives – everyone has made sacrifices and changes over the last two years. But it is thanks to all your efforts that we can move beyond the emergency response while still living safely with this virus.

“I want to thank everyone for all you have done to protect yourselves and your loved ones. You have followed the rules and you have kept Wales safe.

“This three-week review of the coronavirus regulations is a significant milestone – we are completing our careful and gradual transition away from legal protections and away from the emergency response to the pandemic.”

He added ministers would “remain alert to the threat of new and emerging variants”.

“Continuing to take simple steps, including staying up to date with vaccinations, self-isolating if you have Covid-19 symptoms and maintaining good hand hygiene, will be important in helping us all to enjoy a safer and brighter future together,” he said.

The latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey are said to show the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus in Wales is falling.

The number of Covid-19 related patients in hospitals has also fallen to less than 700 and is at its lowest level since December 28 2021.

Welsh Conservative shadow health minister Russell George MS said he was “delighted” at the news while criticising what he claims was Labour’s “overreaction” to the Omicron variant.

“Not only do we need to remember all those who lost lives and loved ones to lockdowns and the virus itself, but learn the lessons of the pandemic about how we can counter another one and assess the impact of deploying harsh emergency restrictions on our population,” he said.

He joined his colleagues in calling on the Welsh Government to carry out a Wales-specific inquiry, accusing them of being “scared of scrutiny”.