Wales is dropping nearly all of its Covid restrictions from Saturday with first minister Mark Drakeford confirming the government will move to what it calls ‘alert level zero’. 

That will mean formal social distancing measures are no longer required, with no restrictions on meeting with other people, and all businesses that have been required to close able to reopen. 

However rather than declaring a 'freedom day' - as the eventual lifting of restrictions in England on July 19 was billed - first minister Mark Drakeford is still urging caution.

Restrictions will be lifted from 6am on Saturday, August 7. The requirements that will remain are wearing face coverings in indoor public places and for risk assessments to be carried out by employers and anyone responsible for premises open to the public. 

In addition everyone must continue to isolate for 10 days if they have Covid-19 symptoms or if they have a positive test result. 

The first minister said: “Moving to alert level zero is another significant step forward for us all. For the first time since the pandemic started, all businesses will be able to open and all legal limits on meeting people in indoor private spaces will be removed. 

“Alert level zero does not mean the end of restrictions and a free-for-all. 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.” 

READ MORE: Wales’ 'Freedom Day': what we'll be able to do from Saturday

He has also warned “the pandemic is not over yet” and has urged people to continue to take precautions and protective measures and to get tested and comply with isolation requirements. 

“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. 

“Continue to keep our distance when we are out and work from home whenever we can. Wear a face mask, especially in crowded places, on public transport, in shops and in health and social care settings.” 

Face coverings will continue to be required in most indoor public places in Wales, including on public transport, in shops and in healthcare settings. There will be exemptions for people who cannot wear them, as there are currently. 

Plaid Cymru has said it welcomes the move but wants the government to keep on top of the ongoing risk from the virus and bring back restrictions if necessary. 

Health spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The situation has to be monitored now with even more stringent vigilance, and should there be an adverse reaction in terms of case numbers and hospital admissions due to Covid, government must be ready to take a step back if necessary.” 

READ MORE: UK traffic light travel changes anger Welsh Government

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the Welsh Government should spend to support jobs now businesses can resume activities: “People are ready to meet loved ones as they once did and businesses need to get on the road to recovery, and it’s now vital the Labour Government spends the £1bn Covid-19 funding in its coffers to support Welsh jobs.” 

Both Plaid and the Conservatives repeated their calls for a specific Welsh inquiry into the government’s response to the pandemic to be held. The Welsh Government says it supports a UK wide inquiry. 

Alert Level Zero explained 

  • There will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events. 
  • Businesses which were required to be closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs. 
  • Premises which are open to the public and workplaces will have more flexibility about which reasonable measures they take to minimise the risk of coronavirus. But these should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances. 
  • Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served, but will continue to be required in most indoor public places. 

Also on from one minute past midnight on August 7, adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone who has coronavirus. 

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.