ALL remaining Covid restrictions in Wales could be removed at the end of the month, first minister Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford made the announcement ahead of publishing Wales’ long-term plan for living with coronavirus tomorrow, Friday.

But no information has been provided on whether free testing will continue other than the intention to continue to run a test, trace and protect programme aimed at undefined 'vulnerable' people.

The Welsh Government and Westminster had been at odds over the decision to withdraw mass free testing in England which, Cardiff said, could impact its approach to testing.

The Together for a Safer Future plan will set out what happens next as Wales moves on from the emergency measures which have been in place for two years.

The plan sets out how people in Wales can live safely with coronavirus – as with other infectious diseases – and what that will mean for public health services and protections put in place to respond to the pandemic, including testing services. This will include a regular annual vacination programme, the Welsh Government has said.

READ MORE: Autumn booster part of Welsh Government 2022 Covid vaccine strategy

It comes as Mr Drakeford has said that Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks, with no further changes to Covid regulations planned before March 28.

Then, all legal measures could be removed, should the public health situation remain stable, the first minister said.

“We’ve been living in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic for two long years,” he said. “It has touched all our lives – across Wales, families and communities have made many sacrifices to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. People in Wales have followed the rules.

“But sadly, too many families have experienced the pain of losing a loved one or a close friend. My thoughts are with them all.

“As we publish this longer-term plan, there is no doubt we have reached a significant moment in this pandemic and we can look to the future with growing confidence that the next year will be one in which we have a different relationship with the virus.

“This has been made possible by the hard work of everyone and by the efforts of all the health and care staff, public sector workers and volunteers who have done so much over the last two years.

“But the pandemic isn’t over – this virus is full of nasty surprises and we are likely to see fluctuations in global patterns of infection for several years.

“We need to be ready to respond quickly to any future outbreaks or new variants as we learn to live safely alongside coronavirus in the long-term.

“We have learned so much over the last two years and we need to harness this as we look forward to a safer and brighter future together.”


Together for a Safer Future: Wales’ Long-term Covid-19 Transition from Pandemic to Endemic will set out a gradual transition away from emergency measures using two core scenarios – Covid Stable and Covid Urgent.

Covid Stable – the most likely scenario – is where Wales may encounter new waves of infection, but they are not expected to put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, due to the effectiveness of vaccines and other treatments, such as new Covid-19 antivirals.

The Welsh Government has said this will include vaccination boosters in the spring for  the elderly and most vulnerable adults, and a regular autumn vaccination programme. The Test, Trace, Protect proramme will also move to a more targeted approach aimed at vulnerable people.

Planning is also under way for a Covid-Urgent scenario, to allow for the Welsh Government and other public services to quickly respond to situations such as a new variant which evades the vaccine.

It also wants businesses to build on infection control plans they have in place to protect staff and customers.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: "Government is now setting out where testing and self-isolating will still be needed and supported over coming months, which is welcome, but we now need to know exactly who will be identified as being in the vulnerable groups, and of course we have to know that testing will remain free."

He also called for a plan to takle long existing problems within the NHS.

The next review of restrictions will be carried out by March 24.

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