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Covid rules in Wales: Fines for going into work set to be scrapped

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Wales will return to alert level zero measures over the next fortnight as part of plans set out by the First Minister.

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Mark Drakeford announced that the measures will be phased in and will start from Saturday, January 15, with the number of people who can be present at an outdoor event rising from 50 to 500.

From January 21 crowds will be able to return to large sporting events, followed by nightclubs reopening on January 28 and the rule of six and table service in hospitality being scrapped.

Follow live updates and reaction today as Mr Drakeford gives a press conference

Meanwhile from January 28, working from home will remain “important” and part of the Welsh Government guidance but will no longer be a legal requirement.

The controversial law had been brought in before Christmas and created potential fines of £60 for employees if they went into work when they could work from home. Employers faced £10,000 fines.

It was heavily criticised by unions at the time who feared that workers would suffer but the Welsh Government insisted it was targeted at employers.

Latest public health data suggests cases of coronavirus have started to fall back from their very high levels, while more than two-thirds of people aged 12 and over have received a booster or third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Welsh Government warned that the full move to alert level zero will be dependent on the public health situation continuing to improve.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I want to thank everyone for following the rules we have had in place since Boxing Day to help keep Wales safe while the fast-moving Omicron variant has surged through our communities.

“I also want to thank everyone involved in our vaccination programme for the enormous efforts to give almost a third of the population a booster since the start of December – this has been vital in increasing our protection against Omicron.

“The actions we have taken together have helped us to weather the Omicron storm. The latest data suggests some positive signs that the peak may have passed.

“We can now look more confidently to the future and plan to start gradually removing the alert level two restrictions, starting with the outdoors measures.

“But the pandemic is not over. We will closely monitor the public health situation – this is a fast-moving and volatile variant which could change suddenly. I urge everyone to continue to follow the rules and have your vaccines to keep Wales safe.”

If conditions allow, the alert level two restrictions will be removed in a phased approach.

From Saturday, January 15 the number of people who can be present at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500.

From Friday, January 21 Wales would move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities. This means there will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities:

  • Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events;
  • Outdoor hospitality would be able to operate without additional reasonable measures;
  • The Covid Pass will be required for entry to larger outdoor events.

If the downward trend continues, from Friday, January 28 Wales would move to alert level zero for all indoor activities:

  • Nightclubs will be able to re-open;
  • Working from home would remain important but it would no longer be a legal requirement;
  • Businesses, employers and other organisations must undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus;
  • The Covid Pass will be required for entry to nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres;
  • The rule of six, table service and two-metre physical distancing no longer required in hospitality.

The self-isolation rules for all those who test positive for Covid and the face covering rules for most public indoor places will remain in force after January 28.

The three-weekly cycle would be re-introduced from February 10, when the Welsh Government will review all remaining measures at alert level zero.

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