COVID passes are to be scrapped and the need to wear face coverings in certain venues removed later this month.

The Welsh Government is set to announce the latest easing of restrictions on Friday as coronavirus cases continue to fall.

The changes will be confirmed on Friday during the first three-week review of Wales’s alert level zero measures.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said vaccination levels and decreasing infection rates mean the country can “look forward to brighter times ahead”.

He signalled that face masks could be scrapped completely by the end of March should public health conditions continue to improve.

A plan will be published next month setting out how Wales will move beyond “the emergency footing on which we have been operating for nearly two years”, Mr Drakeford said.

He had been due to confirm the changes at tomorrows press conference but that will instead be taken by economy minister Vaughan Gething as Mark Drakeford has tested positive for covid.

The first minister said: “With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and boosted and thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone across Wales, we are confident that coronavirus rates are falling and we can look forward to brighter times ahead.

“We can start to gradually and carefully remove some of the remaining protections we have in place at alert level zero.

“But we are not removing all the measures at once because the pandemic is not over yet.

“To keep Wales safe we need to remain cautious and do everything we can to reassure those who feel most at risk.”

From February 18, there will no longer be a legal requirement to have domestic Covid passes to enter indoor or outdoor events including nightclubs, cinemas, or theatres.

But venues will still be able to use them if they choose to.

However, the international Covid pass rules will remain in force.

Then from Monday February 28, compulsory face coverings will be removed from most public places, including gyms, cinemas and churches.

They will still be required in all shops, public transport, and health and care settings.

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On the same day, schools will return to using their local decision framework, meaning rules will vary from area to area.

The guidance is to be updated to make it clear adults should be able to remove their face masks when interacting with babies and small children at baby and toddler groups.

The self-isolation rules currently in place in Wales will remain in force, meaning anyone who tests positive with Covid-19 still has to remain at home for five full days and take a negative lateral flow test on days five and six.

The next review of the coronavirus regulations will take place on March 3.

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