THE number of people wearing Covid masks has fallen to its lowest point in nearly 18 months, after most laws around face coverings were dropped.

The legal requirement to wear a Covid mask is still in force in Wales for places like hospitals and GP surgeries, but it is now a matter of personal choice for people who visit shops and travel on public transport.

Last week, First Minister Mark Drakeford said he believed people would continue to wear masks in crowded public places, get vaccinated and wash their hands regularly.

"These are simple things we’ve all learned to do, and when you add them all up they continue to provide the single biggest protection we have," he told BBC Radio Wales.

But Welsh Government surveys of the public show enthusiasm for wearing a Covid mask has waned in recent weeks, now that it is no longer an obligation.

Just 61 per cent of people surveyed said they were still wearing masks, lower than any other point since face coverings first became mandatory in some places in September 2020.

In the months that followed, the percentage of people wearing masks generally stayed above 80 per cent, but began to fall gradually last autumn.

Other measures like social distancing have also decreased in popularity in recent weeks. Just 16 per cent of those surveyed said they were only leaving home for essential trips, while 40 per cent said they were still trying to keep two metres away from other people when out.

Mr Drakeford said he would still wear a mask in crowded places and on public transport and urged other people to make a judgement call, based on their situation.

"It’s just making sure that you assess the risk, isn’t it?" he said. "If I’m just out by myself walking in the park, I wouldn’t be wearing one there."

The figures also reveal fewer than one in three people in Wales (30 per cent) now views the pandemic as posing a high or very high threat to the country, while 21 per cent believe the virus poses a high or very high threat to themselves personally.