First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed the lifting of nearly all restrictions in Wales.

Addressing the country, Mr Drakeford formally announced that most restrictions will be removed from tomorrow, as Wales moves to its ‘alert level zero’ set of controls.

He said no further changes are planned over the next six weeks, but warned the move does not mean a “free for all here in Wales.”

Here’s the top six things you need to know from today’s briefing as the first minister addressed the nation.

Cases are falling across Wales

Cases of Covid are now falling in most parts of Wales, the first minister confirmed.

The incidence rate is now at 130 cases per 100,000 people, while 82 per cent of adults in the country have had both doses of the vaccine.

Mr Drakeford said: “With every day that passes, that number continues to increase as more people make the decision to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Our high vaccination rates, some of the best in the whole of the world, have helped to weaken the link between coronavirus infection, serious illness and hospitalisation.

“But as cases in the community rose, we have seen a small but noticeable rise in the number of people who have fallen so seriously ill that they have needed to be admitted to hospital and, very sadly too, there has been a small rise in the number of people dying from coronavirus.”

Around one in 230 people are estimated to have had Covid in the week to July 31, down from one in 160 in the previous week.

A third peak

Mr Drakeford confirmed cases are likely to peak in September due to schools and colleges returning.

However, he said modelling did not suggest figures would “move up sharply” or result in people requiring hospital treatment on a similar scale to previous peaks.

He did warn there is a risk that a higher level of influenza and respiratory infections would be seen this winter, coinciding with increased person to person contact.

“It’s going to be a challenging winter for the NHS,” Mr Drakeford said.

“That means that all the things we’ve been talking about today, all the things about continuing to respect other people, wearing masks in crowded places and so on, all of those will make a contribution on that wider waterfront as well as specifically in relation to coronavirus.”

Vaccine certificates

There are “no plans” for vaccine certificates to be introduced, however the Welsh Government will continue to “weigh up” the issue.

“There are ethical considerations, there are equity considerations,” said Mr Drakeford.

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

“You have to think about whether the very considerable apparatus that would have to be in place there to make sure that those vaccines certificates could be produced, that they couldn’t be fraudulently produced, that they could be properly policed in those venues.

“You’d have to weigh all those things up before deciding whether or not this was a measure that had more advantages to it than disadvantages.

“We’re definitely not at that point here in Wales and we won’t be, I think, for a number of weeks yet. But we will weigh it up, we will do it in the way we normally do – we’ll take the best evidence we can.

“If we thought it was a practical and proportionate way of protecting people in Wales from coronavirus, then the case would probably be made for it, but it’s quite a high threshold to get to, even in those voluntary settings.”

A ‘shambolic week’ at UK level

Mr Drakeford said it has been a ‘shambolic week’ at a UK level, referring to the UK government’s decision making of overseas travel.

The first minister said his Government has a different “view of the risks” from international travel and referred to cases rising quickly in Wales last autumn, partly due to large numbers of people returning from other countries.

“I would have to say that I did think that the last week was pretty shambolic at the UK level,” he said.

“Trying to get a sensible answer to a sensible question about the extent to which people were going to have to self-isolate, which countries were affected, how the system was to run in the future, was pretty hard to do and it seemed to change on a daily basis.

“We would have had a different, a simpler system, one that was easier for people to understand.

“One of the things that I think we have learnt, and certainly being advised from early on in the pandemic, is that you have to try to make what you are asking of people as simple and as easy to understand as it can be, because the more easily it can be understood, the more likely it will be the people will be able to follow it.

“I don’t honestly think you could say that the traffic light system measures up to those sort of criteria.”

Confidence this is the final lap

Mr Drakeford reiterated that people can be confident that Wales is on the “final lap of emerging from the pandemic”, provided further “unexpected turns” are avoided.

“But we cannot possibly make the assumption that the virus might not yet have further unpleasant surprises for us,” he warned.

“That’s been the history of the 18 months, and were a new variant to emerge, or the virus take a turn in which vaccination were less effective than we have it today, then inevitably we would have to face the consequences of that and take measures to address it.

“While things remain as they are, while we all go on making the contribution we can, I think we can have some confidence that today’s latest steps out of coronavirus put us on that path beyond this and into the future.”

Urging young people to take up offers of vaccine

The First Minister urged people, especially in younger age groups, to keep coming forward for vaccination.

“It’s more important than ever as many people as possible are vaccinated. Vaccination has got us to this better place.

“I want to encourage everyone, especially in the younger age groups, yet to come forward to come and get a vaccination, it is never too late to be vaccinated here in Wales.”

*Additional reporting by PA.

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